Category Archives: Tips

Learn From Your Mistakes: Parking Tickets

Getting parking tickets is an unfortunate but inevitable part of life. Signs are often confusing and it always seems like parking meter attendants are out to get us.

Parking Ticket
image by alicegop

Our Financial Mistake

We have parking beneath our apartment in the garage. We have tandem spots, so one person is always blocked in. We know which days I leave first and should be in back and which days Lauren leaves first. Occasionally we’ll park on the street if there’s a spot and we can avoid having to switch spots later.

Well, there are only two times we can’t park outside. On one side of the street, there is street cleaning 10am-12:30pm on Mondays and on the other side it’s 12pm-2:30pm on Tuesdays. Lauren came home at 2pm on Tuesday and seeing that they had already cleaned the street, decided to park on the street. It would save us the hassle of having to move our cars when I got home.

How Much It Cost Us

Of course, she found a ticket on her windshield later, for $75. According to the letter of the law, she was in violation, but in the spirit, she was not. However, appealing involves taking the time to go argue and can’t be done via mail, so we sucked it up and moved on.

In a related note, this is just a reminder to fill up your meter with more time than you think you’ll need. You’re risking a similar sized ticket, and usually it’s only 25 or 50 cents to protect you from a possible expired meter. Plus, you get the peace of mind knowing you can go to a store or appointment and not have to worry about getting out of there after a specific number of minutes.

How We’ll Avoid Parking Tickets In The Future

We’ve decided to completely avoid parking on the street if not necessary. Switching spots might be a little annoying, but in reality it only takes about 2 minutes. Having to do that a couple times a month to avoid $75 parking tickets is worth it.

Plus, since we recently reduced our auto insurance coverage, having the cars in a protected area helps us avoid break-ins and damage from other cars hitting us. We’re sometimes lazy, but we shouldn’t risk tickets just because we don’t want to walk down a flight of stairs.

The Most Powerful Moves to Make With Your Money in Your 20s

The following is a guest post from Martin of Studenomics and more recently, Start Freelancing Now. Martin has been writing about how you can find a writing gig and other fun topics related to make more money!

Ah you got to love being in your 20s. Life is amazing. You can get away with anything. You don’t care about much. Often your biggest concern is figuring out where to go next Saturday night. I usually decide this at the last minute since I don’t like to commit too much. The next biggest problem becomes curing your hangover. I’ll say it again — you got to love being in your 20s.

With that being said, you can do lots of cool things in your 20s to set yourself up for the future. Who wants to stress about money in their 30s? Who wants to work into their 60s? Certainly not me. I want to help you set your life up so that you can enjoy the rest of your life.

What are the most powerful moves that you can make in your 20s?

Invest in yourself.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

I’m the biggest promoter of investing in yourself because I totally believe in it. When you improve your skill set and learn new abilities, you open yourself up to a whole new world of opportunities that you may have never thought of.

How can you invest in yourself?

  • Read new books on completely new topics.
  • Learn a language.
  • Attend a conference related to your field.
  • Travel.
  • Take someone fascination out for dinner.
  • Take a side course.

How will you invest in yourself?

Save a bit of your money.

Spending money is fun. Increasing your income is exciting. The trick is to learn how to save a bit of your money. Saving money isn’t the sexiest topic, but it sucks to not have any money in your online savings account when you really need it.

Before you think that I’m sort frugality zealot, I swear to you that I’m not. I believe in optimizing your spending and using credit to your advantage. I went out of my way in college to research the best credit cards for students so that I could build by credit for the future, allowing me to invest in real estate.

All I’m suggesting is that you put a little money away for a rainy day. Life can throw us some curve balls. Sort of like how I had to spend $400 last week on fixing my brakes. I sort of saw it coming. Thankfully, I had the money saved up.

Do things that you’re afraid of.

There’s a lot of intimidating stuff out there in life. Figuring out what to do after college isn’t easy. However, you can easily become bold and start confronting your fears. This is what I’ve been doing over the past few years. Since one my fears was transparency, I’m going to share how I’ve been challenging my fears.

What can you do to crush your fears?

  1. Open up a conversation with an attractive stranger. This action alone will give you an added boost of confidence. This confidence transcends to other areas of your life.
  2. Do something that really scares you. I went zip linen when I was in Mexico earlier this year. I was always nervous of adventure. Not any more. I went on a trip with people I didn’t even know!
  3. Think of the worst case scenario. What’s the worst thing that can possibly happen? Usually nothing all that bad. Anxiety is just re-experiencing failure frequently in advance.
  4. Set a challenge. I’m currently challenging myself by trying to learn Spanish. This is pushing me to open up conversations with Spanish-speaking folks all around me.

Those are the most powerful moves to make in your 20s. What are you waiting for? It’s never too late to get started. If you’re looking for something to read that will open your eyes up to new opportunities, you need to grab a hold of my newly self-published book on Amazon.

Used Car Buying Tips

I am so glad that my used car buying process is over. While necessary, it was time-consuming and exhausting, so I hope I don’t have to go through it again for a long time. I went in to the market looking for a car as a relative newbie, so I had little guidance as to what to expect. My brother had a better idea, but in the past 3 years, the used car market has charged significantly, so we pretty much had to start again from scratch.

Now that I’m a seasoned pro, take these used car buying tips the next time you’re searching for a new vehicle:

Not All Dealers Are The Same

I visited several dealers, all with similar cars, but their prices and customer service all varied. Some were more forceful, some would do anything to get me to test drive, while the ones I liked were the ones who showed me lots of different options that fit my needs and told me to look online at their full inventory. Both the dealers I was most interested in let me leave without forcing anything on me, gave me a business card, and said be in touch.

The ones who had me sit on a room for even a minute and made me uncomfortable in the negotiating process never heard from me again, even though the prices weren’t out of my range. What was worse was the dealer who told me to come down to look at several cars only to tell me when I got there that they weren’t available and that we should look at a car I had already seen and turned down.

Set Limits Before You Hit The Lot

I went with some vague idea of what I wanted. Basically if it drove, I was interested. What I should have done is limit my options earlier by setting limits on the number of miles already driven by a car and my absolutely maximum price, including all fees, of which there were many. I wasted a lot of time setting soft limits. I ended up test driving a few cars that I wasn’t really interested in. While it gave me a taste of what to expect from dealers and what the process was like, it wasted time that I could have spent in better ways.

Be Aware Of Fees

The price on the sticker is far from the price you’ll ultimately pay. Fees, taxes, and licensing can throw your whole equation off. In California, the fees totaled around 11% of the price, so a $10,000 car quickly became an $11,000 car, which was well above my budget. Knowing what the fees would be can help you revise your budget or aim for a lower car to start with the even with fees, you won’t have to dig into your savings (or spend an extra several months making payments).

Know Your Financing Options In Advance

I opted to pay for my car in cash, and boy am I glad I did. Each dealer came back with a whole complicated math problem for me to solve. With an $X down payment, I could pay just $Y per month, and it made it very difficult to compare. By knowing your financing option in advance, you can avoid the tricky math and focus on the total price. That way, you don’t have to worry about the details and can focus on the big picture when buying a car. All I cared about was the final price (what do I care which portion of the price goes to the dealer and which portion goes to fees?) so I tried to make the process as straightforward as possible.

Car buying isn’t always a ton of fun. However, it’s not unbearable if you have the right tools and know what to expect. Use these tips and you’ll be about two weeks ahead of where I was when I started.

Readers, what other tips do you have for when buying a used car?