He who seeketh, findeth

June 29, 2009

Refinancing my car at 48 months to save money

Filed under: Money — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:39 am

Wooden scooterThis coming week, I am going to refinance my car. I have had it for about a year. I had originally financed it for 60 months. I am going to refinance for 48 months. This will not change the original period during which the car would have been paid off (well, may be 2 months or so because of the timing of the refinancing). However, the benefits are that when you buy a car financed for 60 months versus 48 months, there is a 1% difference in the interest rate for the loan (– that’s the case for the credit union from which I got the loan). So, I will save money due to the interest rate reduction. In addition, the monthly payment is going to be lower because the principal is (obviously) lower than the original amount, so I can afford to go 48 months than a year ago. (The shorter the loan period, the higher the amount, other factors help constant.)

Thus, I am going to be paying a lower monthly amount for the next 48 months but end up paying off the car as originally planned! I should have done this with my first car!


UPDATE 7/4/09: After emails back and forth with the credit union with which I financed my car, and a 40 minute call on Thursday, we closed on the refinance loan! The call was that long because the credit union is “out of town” – over 600 miles away, and some things were just better discussed over the phone. So, I will be paying 1.5% less interest. The payment has gone down about $9 per month. The refince is for 46 months which were remaining on my car. So, I am saving $414 in payments over the next 4 years. The 1% was normal reduction due to the amount being loaned was small over a smaller period of time compared to the original loan as explained above. 0.25% was a reduction due to being a member of the credit union for over 5 years, and the other 0.25% was due to having a credit card in good standing with the credit union. I also qualified for 0.25% for direct debit, but they can only give you a maximum of 0.5% additional reduction in interest. Not bad, considering I thought about it, blogged about it, and then tried it!


To rephrase “wealth is in restraint, not indulgence”, wealth is in saving, not spending.

No more buying bottled water

Filed under: Money — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:09 am

BRITA_pitcher_aqualuxYesterday (6/29/09), I went to Target to buy groceries. I was going to buy a few groceries and a fan. I was also looking for an alam clock. I didn’t buy the alarm clock because I figured, I already have one that I don’t like because it shocks me – super-sudden, super-loud, super-shriek – and I also have several alarm clocks on my cellphone… (well, I should have thought about all that before I decided to go look!) Anyway, while looking for the other things, I saw a BRITA combo of 3 filters and a drink bottle going for $14. I like drink bottles (and pens). I had given up bottled water for about 2-3 months earlier this year and then I started backup amount a month ago. This was an opportunity to get back to it. I thought the three filters was a good deal… that will last me at least 6 months. I usually spend at least $7 on bottled water a month ($3.50/box of 24 bottles x 2 boxes/month). So, that will be good savings if I can stick to it. I already bought a pitcher months ago, so no more investment in that department.

“Wealth is in restraint, not indulgence.”

June 28, 2009

Saving money on gas bills with a fan

Filed under: Money — Steve (Chessiq) @ 11:59 pm

Holmes Oscillating Tower FanYesterday (6/27/09) I bought a fan at Target so that I can save on the electric bills. I had researched earlier in the week how much energy fans use compared to air conditioners. I have been using an air conditioner for most of the past month and my electric bill has been around $60 (I think the highest was the latest I received a couple of days ago, and it was $57). I knew that the bill for June (to be received in July) will be much higher as June has been pretty hot. Last summer my bills were between $225-275 a month! That is a lot of money to me and I don’t intend to go through that again. Of course, there were other factors that contributed to the high bills, but I will not get into them. This summer will be an experiment to see if my thinking is correct. I intend to put the A/C at around 80 or 85 degrees Fahrenheit [80°F-85°F] which is pretty high, and then turn on the fan. I tricked my body earlier in the afternoon by not turning on the A/C and I got pretty warm (hot ;-)) as the temperature in the apartment got to around 92°F! Then I turned on the A/C at 85°F and it almost felt like I had jumped in the pool. No more shenanigans like that. I don’t think I will get the A/C setting below 80°F unless I have visitors or something else is going on.

I have also decided to start spending more time in the bedroom since the A/C is in the bedroom, that way I can close all other doors and there will be no need to cool off the rest of the apartment. The fan will thus remain in the bedroom… no need to move it from the bedroom to the living room and back like I did yesterday!

I am keeping myself pretty hydrated, not because I am warm, but it is just good practice. That’s it about the fan… I will update the post in the future with my monthly bills and see if I will recoup the $45 that I invested in the Holmes Oscillating Tower Fan.

“Wealth is in restraint, not indulgence.”

October 20, 2007

All they MAY DO is say “NO” – (Saving money by calling customer service).

Filed under: Happiness,Health,Money — Steve (Chessiq) @ 7:42 pm

When it comes to Banks and other services providers (SPs), there are times when I “lose” money because of my own fault, sometimes because of other people’s fault. For example, there was a time when I transferred money from one bank to the other about 10 days prior to the day that I was going to write a check from the latter bank account. The transaction was supposed to clear both banks within 5 (business) days. It cleared the first one within 2 days, and it took a long time to clear the second bank because the paperwork was sitting on somebody’s desk for over a week! In the mean time, the check I had written was returned, I was charged all sorts of fees everywhere. To add salt to the wound, the bank that was sitting on my check charged me overdraft fees! After fuming and everything on the side – (this is very important, don’t be mad at the customer service, even when they are behaving like jerks) – I called the payee to find out if they could waive the fees, since it was not my fault. No they wouldn’t. What could I do to make sure that my record was clean? A letter from the second bank, stating that they had messed up etc. I had called my first bank during the 10 days to find out what was happening and I had detailed notes on when they made the funds transfer etc. Then I called the second bank to tell them what had happened… they did an internal search for the transaction and found the hangup. They offered to process the transaction ASAP. I said thanks, and then got the details of the person I was speaking with and reference number for the problem – and then continued to tell the person how the delay had impacted me. I started with something that the person could help me with, waive the fees at the bank. She did that for me. Many thanks. At this time, the only thing that was remaining was the fees that the payee (of my check) charged me. I went on to ask for a reimbursement of those charges. I was told to go to a local bank (branch) for some paperwork… anyway, after things didn’t quite work out here, I spoke to the regional manager and then emailed her proof of all the charges and reversed charges and remaining charges and she decided in my favor within 24 hours. It’s been a couple of months, but I am sure I saved over $200 in fees. ($35 overdraft fee, $50 returned check fees, $30/day late fees, and other ridiculous fees that you agree to when you don’t anticipate things getting that out of hand.)

The one thing that I usually get in trouble with is “free-trial” stuff. Usually, it is stuff that I don’t NEED, but I just WANT to try (so that I know 😉 ) – the latest incident was stamps.com – I have AVG anti-virus software. The “lean” package is free for home use, but you could get the full package – anti-virus, firewall, spy-ware, etc for a year, free of charge, if you try out a bunch of things. So I choose to try out stamps.com for a month, “risk-free”. I knew that I could cancel the same day once I got the activation code – but I was like, I may print some free stamps, or I may …. I don’t know. I guess I can cancel when everything is good – I feel like calling customer service and answering all the questions about why I was canceling (before the free trial was over) etc. I waited too long even though I knew it was getting really really close, and then it was a weekend, and stamps.com customer service does not open on weekends! Anyway, I called in on the following Monday or Tuesday to cancel, and the guy was gracious on the phone. Asked me why I was canceling, told him that I never send anything in the mail. That’s true. I was never going to use the service. I thought everything was okay until a couple of days later, I see some charge, $15.95 or $15.99 had hit my credit card! Nice. I had dealt with this before, only this time, I thought the problem was that I had canceled the service late. As usual, I told myself, I don’t make $15.95 in 5 minutes, so I might as well take the chance to do that for once! Call customer service and see if they can refund me the money. All they may do is say, “NO”, but I could save money if I convince somebody to do it. The CSR told me that the service was not a free trial, it was a risk free trial! What’s the difference? I cannot remember the details, but they charge for their service in advance, so once I exceeded the 4 weeks, I got billed for that. AND they were about to bill me for the next period that had started when I called them, but they decided to give me a courtesy one time waiver etc. (I could have been billed over $31 for something that I never intended to use! I considered just dropping the request, but I was like, let me press and see what he says.) So I apologized for my misunderstanding of the situation, and asked if he could do me a big favor by refunding me the money. He sternly refused. There are times when I dislike male CSRs and at other times I dislike female CSRs! At other times, I love them both! Thing is, most of them are good. It’s just that sometimes these things will go your way, sometimes they will not. So I asked him one more time if he could do it, he said he could not. I thanked him for his help, asked for his name, and then asked to speak to his supervisor. After a minute or so, I was on the phone with his supervisor, and I explained the situation, what I had understood from my talk with the CSR, and what my position was. I told him I understood their position, but I needed a favor – a refund of the fees, as I never intended to use the service. “Okay, can you hold, I will see what I can do.” “Thank you very much.” I meant it each time I said thanks – when I was given the opportunity to speak to the supervisor, to when the supervisor told me he would see what he could do – sometimes it may be too late to reverse stuff. A few seconds later, he told me he had reversed the transaction and it would appear on my card in 5 to 7 business days. “Thanks so much, I really appreciate it.” He offered to give me the reference number, normally, I would take it, but this one time, I said no – I told him that I trusted him, so I didn’t need the number. I hope I will not need the reference number!

So, I figured I could just share these two of the many experiences I have had, whereby calling customer service for whatever needs, be it reversing outrageous charges, to canceling your cable (and you end up getting one or months free of charge), to asking for a lower interest rate on your loan or credit card – pays off. After all, all they may do is say “NO”.

September 23, 2007

Stewardship Sunday: make a baby for the Church or increase your weekly offerings by $4.58

Filed under: Fun (Jokes etc),Happiness,Meditation,Money,Reason for Breathing,Thanksgiving — Steve (Chessiq) @ 2:37 pm

Today is Stewardship Sunday. Today’s sermon was inspiring and funny. We were reminded that it is our duty to give to God what is not ours in the first place; that we can give through the things/property we own, through time/service, and through talents. One of my favorite Jesus’ sayings: if you cannot be trusted with small things, how can you be trusted with the bigger things. (Well, something like that!)

The funny part of the homily was when Father Vic told us that the Parish ran a deficit of about $70,000 last year. This was due to Teacher salary increments and lower school enrollment. The former increased the expenses, while the later reduced the income. Not a good combination. The Priests, (we have two), had come up with two solutions/alternatives for us: either we stop having 1 or 2 children and go back to the old Catholic way of 10 or more to increase future school enrollment, or we should increase our weekly contribution by $4.58(?)!!!

What a tough choice! (I may do both! I will just ask the Church to take care of all the expenses for the 10 kids!)

August 31, 2007

Monetizing your blog with the power of search

Filed under: Blogging,Money — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:19 pm

It is a no-brainer that Google’s fame is a result of people’s need for information that they don’t have. Thus, they go the quickest, most accurate search engine they can find: Google. Almost everybody uses Google to search. When I go to a blog and I find some information that I need to research further, or I just want to leave the site and go somewhere else, I almost always type http://www.google.com if there is no Google search box on the website I am at. Even though I have no stats, I am sure I am not the only one who does this.

How do you monetize your blog off this?

First, you need to have Google AdSense for Search on your blog.

Second, you need to position in such that people can use it easily. Position the search box at the top where it is easily accessible and usable. Sometimes people may come to your blog or website and they don’t like what you have written that day… they are about to leave. They may search on their way out! Think and grow rich! (Click here for an example of what I mean)

Of course, most browsers have search boxes. But is the default search engine, Google? Does the user use that box? Who knows?!

August 29, 2007

If Warren Buffett were to live his life all over again…

Filed under: Meditation,Money,Reason for Breathing,Thanksgiving,Thoughts and Reflections — Steve (Chessiq) @ 7:26 pm

If you were to live your life all over again, what would you change? The second richest man in the world, and the greatest investor who ever lived answers that question in the video below. Please click play and then drag the “VCR timer button” to 1:22:15 to hear what he says. When I first saw the video, I decided that I would never again, wish I was born a different person. Sometimes I fail and wish things were different, but all in all, I am happy with who I am… all things considered. I get back to this video when I feel down or I wish things were different or … if I can’t find things to be thankful for.

August 12, 2007

Should I repair my car – til death do us part?

Filed under: Money,Reason for Breathing,Thoughts and Reflections — Steve (Chessiq) @ 1:09 am

There are very few things about money that excite me more than not having a car payment. So when my car was paid off late last year… I thought I would use the money to travel the world, feed the poor and the hungry, buy a house, contribute to my favorite political candidate, buy an engagement ring, save for a wedding, contribute to my kids college fund,… you get the idea! But my car had it’s own ideas, well, one idea actually: repair me, repair me, repair me, and please repair me! So I have done that a couple of times. I may have to do it again soon. The first time, I spent over four times what my car payment used to be. The second time, it was just the battery, so it was almost a quarter of the car payment. Other things I just put off “til this government has money to spend on that project.” So, how far am I willing to go with repairing this 1999 Chevy Malibu? Well, one option is til death do us part. Either I die before the car (which is unlikely!) or the car dies and it is too expensive to repair. The other option is to look at the $80 here, $1000 there… and see how much the total cost is. Is it better to just go and get a new car? Well, I have given myself a limit of $2,000 per year. That breaks down to about $167 per month. I suspect that if I got a loan for another car – if it is decent enough, the payments will be more than $167.00 per month. My previous payment was way over that. My insurance would most likely go up with the newer car. I am not sure if the car would be reliable – (of course, I would not getting a brand new car! Are you crazy?!)

So, that’s my game plan regarding repairing my car. What’s yours?

How to buy more gas for less, or spend less on gas

Filed under: Money,Reason for Breathing,Thoughts and Reflections — Steve (Chessiq) @ 1:08 am

Not too long ago there was a hearing in Congress regarding gas companies/dealers/sellers and how they make money by selling consumers “hot” gas or “ghost” gas. The issue was that gas expands in the summer (duh!) and therefore when you go to a gas station to put gas in your automobile, your tank fills up quickly due to the expanded gas. The gas meter/pump charges you for the volume of gas you have put in the car. If you have a problem envisioning what I am talking about, let’s look at a simple example.

Let’s say you have a car that fills up with 104 gallons. Let’s also assume that gas expands (and occupies 4% more volume) when the weather gets to 80 degrees. So you go to a gas station to fill up your car. You would put 104 gallons of expanded gas. You would pay for 104 gallons which in actual fact is 100 gallons. So you are paying for 104 gallons when you are actually getting 100 gallons. (If it is very cold, as it is in the Winter, it works the other way round.)

So, how do you buy more gas for less (or spend less on gas)? Well, you can buy gas in Winter only! Not practical because you cannot buy and keep gas for future use like that. First, I believe it is against the law. (Or I hope so!) Second, why waste the money? But what you can do is to create your own “winter scenario”. The goal is to buy gas when the temperature is low. When the temperature is low (cold weather), the gas will contract and take up less space/volume. Thus more gas will be required to fill out the same volume. In your case… you will pay for only 104 gallons of cold/”contracted” gas when in fact you are getting more. Makes sense? If not, I will provide links at the end, that way you can read up some more on your own.

Back to the “winter scenario”. You will need to get to a gas station before it gets hot so that you can fill up your car with the cold, less voluminous gas. That’s the simple solution to buy more gas for less (until the law is changed to require temperature adjusted gas pumps).
Here are some links for more info:
NPR – Heat Throws Off Gas Pumps, and Motorists Pay

California Gas Stations Admit ‘Hot Fuel’ Ripoff and Put Decal on Pumps –Legislature Should Take Action

How to grow $20 to $14,486 and beyond (All done within 2 years!)

Filed under: Money,Reason for Breathing,Thoughts and Reflections — Steve (Chessiq) @ 1:04 am

How do you start off with $20.00 plus $4.44 the first day, $1 the next day,… (and today she has saved only $4), and end up with $14,486 total savings within 2 years?! I cannot put it in words. You just have to see it for yourself.
Click here to see how she started off.

Click here to see where she is today.

And how cute is this couple!?!? LOL! you must read this “savings notebook” – and tell me if you think you are romantic!

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