Coffee heat rising

Tips for Working Out Your Budget When Buying a New Car

Do you want to buy a new car? Maybe you just want to make sure that you are getting the best deal but don’t want to spend too much time pondering over the finer details. Either way, you can find out everything you need to know right here.

Work out the Running Costs

The first thing that you’ll need to do is work out the running costs. If you need some help then you should know that there are some running cost calculators out there that you can use. When you have found out how much you can afford to pay towards your car, you then need to make sure that you can actually afford to run it. A used car will always cost more in fuel, servicing, maintenance and tax, not to mention that you will also have to worry about the value depreciating as well.

If you buy a new car then you won’t pay as much across the board, but you will pay more for the car itself. That being said, although a used car costs more to run, you have to know that the new car will lose most of its value during the first year, so unless you plan on keeping the car longer than this time period, you’ll certainly lose out more when you sell. If you need some help covering the costs then remember that some of the best installment loans for buying new and used vehicles will give you very good interest rates from the get-go.

How to Find the Right Car


You have to make sure that you don’t let your heart rule your head. If you know that you cannot afford your dream vehicle then you may want to think about getting a nearly new or used car. You can look in car magazines or you can look at cars on the road if you want. When you do, you will soon find that it is easier than ever for you to make the best purchase without having to worry about a thing.

Questions you Need to Ask Yourself

Think about it; what length of warranty do you need? Is the car that you are buying one of the safest on the road? Do you want a car that is going to hold its value well? When you ask yourself questions like this, you can then begin to make the best decision in regards to your car and your purchase in general. If you just don’t know what car you need, then you need to try and talk to your local garage to see if they can advise you. When you do, they should be able to tell you about the cars that they get in for repairs the most so you can choose a car that is as low maintenance as possible.

Take into account your Fuel

Another thing that you need to do is work out the fuel costs. If you don’t then you may find that you end up paying more in the long-run and this is the last thing that you need. If you are concerned about running your car on fuel that is expensive then you should know that electric cars are the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, but they are very expensive to buy. The diesel variant of a car will give you better mileage for long journeys, but it is not as ideal for short journeys. If you want to get a good result out of your car then you need to make sure that you account for this as much as possible.

Hiking/Health Update

w00t! Made it to the top of the mountain for the FOURTH time this week!

When I described this hike on April 14, I imagined I was clambering up North Mountain. That’s because SDXB and I have perennially confused North Mountain with Shaw Butte all these years. In fact, the trail I pictured and described in that post goes up Shaw Butte, a slightly higher promontory with an interesting history.

The Shaw Butte trail (about 2150 feet in elevation) can be accessed from several trailheads on the south and the north sides. From Central Avenue site, the round-trip hike is said to be about 5 miles (uh-huh…I’ll believe that when I see someone’s pedometer reading…I’d put it at about 3 or 3½ miles RT, but whatever…). You can get to it from the expensive-looking Seventh Street Visitor’s Center by following a trail that goes around and over the flood dam and intersects the upward-bound trail just above the dinky Central Avenue parking lot; I’d guess that trail is…ohhh…about a half-mile.

Yesterday, by peering off the side of the mountain, whence I had hiked from the Central Avenue parking lot on the north side of the hills, I figured out that a side trail probably led to the Visitor’s Center or someplace close to it.

So today I parked at the Visitor’s Center, which has a much more generous parking lot (I can park easily in the Central Avenue parking lot by taking advantage of my crip-space hanger, but…it’s a little embarrassing to park in a disabled space and then go bounding up the side of a mountain….) (I don’t use the crip space hanger unless a parking lot is practically empty, except when I’m in Tempe, where ASU commits a version of piracy in the public parking department) (and even in near-empty lots I rarely use it, because one of my eccentricities is a preference for parking on the far end of a lot by way of a) getting some exercise and b) parking my car in the shade).

(CHALLENGE: How many parenthetical asides can YOU cram into a single sentence?) 😀

Sh!t…where was I? I lost track…

Yeah, on the side of the mountain. Today’s trek was the fourth hike up the mountain since last Friday. I’d intended to do it tomorrow and make today’s exercise either a hike on the flat or a long bicycle ride, but one of my clients wanted to meet as dawn cracks tomorrow morning. It’s supposed to hit 90 degrees tomorrow, so I knew that by the time I shovel him out the door, it’ll be way too late for a journey up the side of a half-mile-high hill.

Saturday is the endlessly anticipated Oak Creek hike, the motivation for six weeks of physical therapy and all this mad conditioning-motivated hiking. The planned Friday conditioning hike obviated by the client’s demand, I decided to move it forward to today. That will make Friday into a day of relative rest (biking or canal-hiking planned for after the guy leaves tomorrow). This (a vigorous hike + a day of relative peace + vigorous hike + peace) is best, I’ve found, for building stamina.

So it was off to the Seventh Avenue Visitor’s Center as soon as I escaped from this morning’s wee-hours meeting of the Scottsdale Business Association.

It was late when I started, as in too goddamn hot to be climbing around: well after noon by the time I got back to the car. That notwithstanding, though, I reached the top with only four stops to gasp for breath. The first time up, honest to Gawd, I think I stopped to huff and puff about every twenty steps!

Useta be that when I would get out of shape, it would take three, count’em (3), trips up the mountain to reach the stage where I could hike all the way to the summit without stopping. Now that I’m old, however, I figure about six would be more like it. So far, I seem to be on target: this week I’ve made four trips up there. Hmm. Surely by next Friday, assuming I make three trips next week, I should reach the top without a pause.

Let’s pretend that the five-mile figure is correct (though I doubt it). I’ve been up the mountain four times this week: that’s 20 miles. And I’ve made two hikes on the flat of maybe a mile and a half apiece. Sooo…what do we have? Twenty-three miles? NOT FREAKING BAD, for an old bat pushing 70! (no, we do not mean 70 mph…)

IMHO, the distance up the side of Shaw Butte is more like three miles. So, if I could go up there three days a week and then walk the flat or the canal another three days a week (choir will obviate much outdoor activity now that the weather’s getting hot), that would give us…what?

3 three-mile uphill hikes = 9 miles/week
3 one-and-a-half flat hikes = 4.5 miles/ week
Total hill plus flat =13.5 miles/week

Well. That’s thirteen and a half more miles than the distance between the computer and the refrigerator.

I sure do feel a lot better. The cardiologist-doc was right in saying that a stint of sustained vigorous exercise brings a quick end to the anxiety attacks. Not only that, but the back pain is now almost 100% gone, with the exception of an occasional very mild twinge.

This is good. Very, very good.

Image: North Mountain and Shaw Butte Preserves. Jstuby at en.wikipedia. Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Life Lessons from the Mountain

w00t! Amazing!

Yesterday I decided to start anew on the ever-flagging effort to get off my ever-enlarging fanny and lose some weight. On the way home from class, I went over to Shaw Butte to start what I hope will be at least three days a week of climbing. To my delight, they have not yet started charging people to park at the trailhead (otherwise I’d have had to drive around the corner and leave my car in a grocery-store parking lot), and better yet, no one was there!

These vertical gyms are usually packed, so it’s mighty nice to start up the trail and be greeted by silence and a watching cottontail.

I didn’t figure I’d make it to the top the first time out. Nowhere near, come to think of it: Shaw Butte has some pretty steep stretches, even on its relatively gentle north side. So the plan was to walk about a third of the way up the first day, stopping at a little scenic perch where you can peer off the south side. Do that two days in a row; then the third day go about halfway up. Two days in a row of that; then on the fifth day hike about three-fourths of the way. And on the seventh day, to rest not but go all the way to the top.

Well. The scenic step-out was a great deal further up than I recalled, and the climb a great deal less strenuous. In fact, you don’t reach the lookover until you’re just below the last stretch below the summit.

About halfway up, I figured oh, what the hell, I’m not that tired, and kept walking. Two-thirds of the way, I could see where the overlook is and thought oh, what the hell and kept walking. At the overlook, I realized it was really only another few steps to the top and thought oh, what the hell and kept walking.

Whoa! Can you believe it? I made it all the way to the top on the first day!!!!!!!

True, I had to stop several times on the way. Quite a few several times…drank about 16 ounces of water in the process. And true, I used to be able to get up there without stopping at all. But it’s been years since I’ve climbed anything more interesting that a couple flights of steps. In fact, I hardly get up from the desk, ever—I spend 12 to 14 hours a day parked in front of a computer. That’s why I look like I’m about five months pregnant.

I figure it will take about three months to lose ten pounds, assuming I don’t diet (which I hate and which I will not stick with) but do knock off the sauce (again :roll:). I’ll never be my old sylph-like self, but that’s just as well because I can’t afford to buy a closet-full of new Costco  jeans.

It was really exciting to succeed in doing that. On the way down the trail, it occurred to me that there are some larger life lessons in this small adventure, life lessons that apply in general to work and saving and debt escape and self-improvement in general.


You probably can do better than you think you can.

When you start a project, stack the deck in your favor. (In this case, I brought a lot of water, chose a cool day to hike, and picked a time when only about three hours of work remained to be done that day.)

Setting a goal helps you go further.

The only one you’re in competition with is yourself.

Once you meet a goal, keep going.

But if you know, realistically, that the pursuit is harming you, stop and find something else to do, without feeling guilty about it.

Life is short. Eternity is long. Do it now.

Bunny rabbit photo: Desert cottontail. HowchengCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.
Photos of North Mountain Park by SDXB.

Figuring out what you want to be when you grow up: The Prioritizer!

Two of my favorite PF bloggers are contemplating the fine points of goal-setting. J.D. at Get Rich Slowly introduces a reader’s plea for direction in a project to overcome debt and then asks readers how they accomplish a seemingly unsurmountable task. Meanwhile, Paid Twice, whose whole blog is the story of a goal, trots out (ta DAAAH!) The Prioritizer, a self-help toy that’s been around on CNN for a while, and suggests you could use it not just to to analyze financial issues but “to understand what is deeply important to you and how to find balance.”  

Ah hah! Just recently we were talking about (ahem) one of us who can’t figure out what she wants to do with her life. This is a job for The Prioritizer!

So, it was off to CNN to find the answers to life’s persistent questions…or at least figure out which question matters the most. 

The Prioritizer works by asking you to list up to fifteen goals, then presenting them to you in pairs and asking you which member of each set is more important to you. After you’ve jumped through this hoop several times, you get a list in descending order of priority, with scores alleging to quantify each item’s relative importance.

Well, I came up with ten:

• Lose about 15 pounds
 Get more exercise
• Write a detective novel and peddle it to my current favorite publisher of pulp fiction
• Get through the coming layoff without going broke
• Retire without financial pain
• Beat stress
• Learn to draw and paint
• Develop a craft or art, such as jewelry-making, that will generate some money
• Be lots less bored than I am. 
• Quit working

 All very worthy goals (some might say), but they presented a problem for The Prioritizer: some  overlap to such an extent that to pick one or the other, I had to state a preference for one of two things that are identical or nearly identical. “Lose weight,” for example, bleeds into “get more exercise.” And getting more exercise is a key strategy in beating stress.  The result looked a little strange:

We end up with “get more exercise” and “lose 15 pounds” separated by three slots, and we conclude that losing weight is about half as important as getting more exercise. In reality, they’re about the same when it comes to maintaining and improving my health. “Develop a craft or art to make some money” is indeed different from “learn to draw and paint”: I don’t delude myself that anyone would want to buy any of my pictures, but I do think I could make jewelry or other tchochkies that would sell. “Stop working” essentially repeats “retire without financial pain,” but again we see them widely separated, and “be lots less bored” is about the same as items 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8. 

Evidently, the questions were poorly crafted. Let’s try again, with (implicit) goal number 1 being “eliminate redundancy”:

Seems we had a fair amount of redundancy: the list is now cut in half. But does it enlighten?

Well, in a way. Clearly, writing detective novels is not the pond I want to plunge into next. And it is true that the coming enforced retirement occupies my mind more than anything else just now and probably is the most important thing I need to handle, at least financially. And it’s reasonable to think that I need to get cracking on an exercise and diet program if I’m going to stay healthy in old age. It doesn’t do much to answer the question J.D.’s reader posed, which was how do you get a handle on a single important goal? But then that’s not what we asked it to do.

Oddly, it does succeed in ranging the broad things I’d like to accomplish in order from most to least important. A Ouija board might have done as well. But hey! Whatever works, works.

Challenge: Five midsummer financial goals

Having reviewed my 2008 New Year’s to-do list, I’ve decided to come up with five new goals or ideas to improve my financial life, here in midsummer 2008. Then we’ll see, come the end of the year, whether any of these bear fruit. I’m putting a reminder in Outlook to check back with this post and review whatever progress happens. Not only that, but I’m issuing a challenge to readers and other bloggers to do the same!

Here are my Midsummer Day’s Dreams:

  • Continue driving thoughtfully and conserving gas, even if fuel prices drop.
  • Build the new business with my young business partner and try to meet 1/2 of our year-one revenue goal, which for each of us would be $6,000.
  • Start and monetize a new blog in connection with the new business.
  • Monetize Funny about Money.
  • On December 31, apply the accumulated Renovation Loan fund to pay down principal by at least 50%.

I hereby tag the following bloggers with a challenge to come up with five midsummer goals or ideas to improve your finances between now and the end of 2008:

I’ll let you know when their responses appear. Meanwhile, if you put up your own midsummer resolutions on your site, please let me know so I can link to yours. Or just leave your list in a comment, below.