Monday, January 31, 2011

January Non-Purchases

What a surprise to learn there was nothing this month that I didn't NOT buy.  To be a little more clear, January was a month for 100% needs and 0% wants. And, here's the thing - it was easy. 

Well .... we spent $77 on liquor but I could make the argument that is a true need.  Like chocolate - can you live without it?  Yes.  Would you want to?  No!

You know I like my Manhattans

Anyway, I'm pleased but also a bit disappointed because I've really enjoyed adding up the money I saved and converting it into gallons of gas. 

December total = $110

November total = $ 88

Grand total = $198

My aversion to buying stuff I don't need so I can travel the way I want = deep satisfaction.  Us middle-class types have to  make choices.  But, in this case, the choice is pain-free.  Get Rich Slowly discusses the same concept - conscious spending - in today's post.   

I think I'm going to be thrilled with my savings progress for the month - I'll report it as soon as the dust settles around the numbers.     

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Test Drive

Finally got to check out this Roadtrek 170 Popular. I've been trying to get over there for weeks. 

First impressions confirmed what I thought I already knew: 1) Roadtrek makes a great product and 2) the 170 is too small for me.  I’m 5’10” so sleeping width-wise is out.  I’ll have to sleep on the diagonal even in a 190.  But I need that 20 extra inches!  And I think the electric sofa is going to be important.  Making up the bed every day is probably not a good idea for me.  (I’m a nurse and have the bad back to prove it).  As a result, the power sofa will limit me to newer models.  A lot to think about.  But that’s why we do our homework, isn't it kids?   

As Glenn put it so well on one of my favorite blogs To Simplify: After all, you can speculate all you want about how well-suited a particular rig is to one's needs, but until you've actually lived in it for a while, day in and day out, you really don't know. 

The unit appears to be in very good condition.  It drove nicely.  I’m sure the owner, selling on consignment, would be willing to negotiate a really good deal for this 2006 model with 32,000 miles on it (if anyone is interested here's the link).

But there lurked a deal-breaker.  Don’t know if you can tell from this shot

Owner-Installed Head Injury Appliance 

but the owners added this overbed light enclosed-in-a-globe-thing complete with a pointy switch that sticks out a good 3-4 inches.  And in a space that has no headroom to start with!  I banged my head on it.  Twice.  It still hurts.         

There is a 2010 Versatile 210 on the lot as well (you can see it behind the 170) but I didn’t drive it.  It’s too expensive, the double-wide body would preclude its use as a second car and, I don’t care for the Versatile floor plan with the 4 seats.  Three seats is too many for me!  I’m the loner-type, not a carpooling soccer mom.      

Just for fun, I looked at a used Class C: a 26’ Winnebago Aspect .  Quite a shock going from a van to a motorhome.  The van is like a car, the Class C is like my first apartment.  Then we looked at a teardrop.  Cute, but not stealthy nor very practical; really just one step up from tent camping.

     But I liked the dealership and the salesman.  I liked the way he didn’t patronize me, the way he just handed me the keys and said “Here, drive around as long as you want.  Come back whenever you’re ready”.  Rarely have I been so tempted to go hold up a liquor store. 

It was awfully nice to get away from my office, my studies, and all the other indoor issues out into the sunny day with temps in the mid-50’s.  It felt so good to be on the road – even for just 2 hours.        

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Heavy Hearts

Blanche Helen Raines
1925 - 2011

Apologies for such a long silence.  My mother-in-law of 27 years died last week; we are trying to stabilize right now.  She was 85 and increasingly frail but it's still a shock.       

She was the best mother-in-law anyone could have.  She welcomed me into the family all those years ago and treated me with nothing but love and respect which I hope I was able to return in some way. 

She was also a wonderful wife of 67 years and raised four fine children. 

Everyone who knew her is grateful that she left with the same quiet dignity with which she lived.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More $$$ Stuff

I’ve been working on an RV financing scenario since there is little else I can do regarding an actual purchase right now.  I’ve done my homework and know what I want in a “touring van” - model, features, year, mileage, etc….   I just need to figure out the purchase price I can live with. 

Note: I loathe debt; we are currently debt-free and have been for years.  Because of a genetic predisposition – thanks Dad! – I know I will pay the van off significantly sooner than the 5 years I have plugged into the formula.   However, I still need both a price range and a price limit. And the discipline not to exceed that limit.   

I could wait another year or two and pay 100% cash but my allergy to debt is also mitigated by the fact that I’ve put all my travel dreams off long enough and life is so very short.  And getting shorter.  The pain of finishing up my coursework and writing my dissertation is eased more than I would have thought possible by knowing the open road awaits.  The van is just a means to an end after all.    

OK – to the calculator!

Assumptions: finance at 6% x 60 months with 30K down

50 K = $386/month     ($53,160*)
55 K = $483/month     ($53,980*)
60 K = $579/month     ($64,780*)

* total cost including finance charges

Again, the amount of interest paid is not a big concern as I will pay this off the debt aggressively and early.  But the picture isn’t complete without it.  Note how each 5K increment results in an extra $100/month.   

Bottom line: Even if I wind up paying the upper limit, I know I can get a really good used unit for that price.  Great news!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Slight Change of Plans

I was planning on making a 2 hour round-trip today to test-drive a 2006 Roadtrek 170 Popular

(I’ve not driven the 170 before and while I think it will prove too small, I want to be thorough in my search).  But unexpected basketball tickets for this afternoon’s game would have made this a rush-rush trip.  So I’ll leave it till next weekend maybe, provided the unit is still at the dealer.  

It also occurred to me as I was communicating with the seller via email that if the right unit came along, I just might get impulsive and buy it.  I'm not usually that spontaneous but it has happened.  This doesn't worry me overmuch as I have some $ saved and I know what I'm looking for.  BUT what I don't have is 1) my degree and 2) a permanent job.  And I do want to sell my car both for a larger down payment and also because the van will be our 2nd car. 

Plus I feel positive that when the finances and the professional life are both in order the right unit will practically drive itself to its new home. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

December Savings Report

fundraising ideasYuck!

Not what I had hoped for AT ALL.

Only $500 to the RV fund this month. Sigh. Of course it’s better than no contribution at all or, even worse – having to take money out. Taking out is most certainly what I would have done if not for our surprise bonus checks we received right before Christmas.

December expenses included tuition (hopefully the last time I’ll have to pay for school), a new top for the car, and a crown for yet another broken tooth.

The tally is an unbelievable 12 trips to the dentist for 2010!!! Surely I will get some relief from this expense soon. (Not that soon though since there is another dental issue – an infection – that I really need to address in January). So if I can manage to stay out of the dentist’s chair and am truly finished with tuition expenses, 2011 should be a much better year for savings. Plus I’ll have both a doctorate and a nice smile to show for it!

Once again, sadly, none of this money translated into one single moment of happiness. That’s the hard part about being a grown-up, I guess.

Oh well, next month is sure to be an improvement …

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Small Space Cooking

There's a new blog in town:  Simplifried

The author, Matt, is a full-timer.  The type and make of the RV has not been discussed yet which tells me that the focus is cooking.  He has figured out ingenious ways to create meals with little fuss and little waste in a little kitchen.  It seems his target audience is the home cook for whom preparing a meal at the end of a long work day is a burden. 

My Dream Kitchen

The blog only just debuted so there are only a few posts.  I expect great things.