Paper, textbook, and motorcycle updates

August 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm | Posted in life, math, motorcycles | 9 Comments

Just a couple of updates on stuff from my last entry. My paper is done, and it will likely be submitted to a journal this week! I’m very excited.

About the textbook problems: after I complained to the publisher (the email was positively scathing), our rep fixed everything to our (the textbook manager’s and mine) satisfaction. I have the new edition in the bookstore, and they took back the old ones at their expense, and all within 3 business days of my complaint. I’m upset about the price increase, but that happens with new editions all the time. Overall, I am very happy with the way the situation was handled. No hard feelings.

I got my motorcycle back with the new exhaust pipes on it. The pipes were from an ’82 Yamaha Virago 920, and I have an ’81 Yamaha Virago 750, but folks on online forums said that exhaust systems from those early year Viragos are interchangable, so I took a chance, and it paid off. They fit just fine, and it sounds great. Not too quiet, not too loud. And I picked up a windshield they couldn’t get rid of for less than half the price, and it looks great! The only problem now is I need new saddlebags, since the current ones now hit the stock pipes (which are higher than the aftermarket ones I took off). That, and I need to fix a pesky turn signal, but hopefully that’s just replacing a bracket; a quick fix. That should be done soon, but the saddlebags will have to wait … I’ve put enough money into this bike this year!


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  1. So, is the bike your primary mode of transit? Do you have a car in the winter, or is it all cycle all the time? Great way to save money. Good thing you don’t need to try to fit a car seat in it though.

    And congrats on the paper! That’ll learn ’em.

  2. One of the women I spoke with said that she does need a U bracket on her bike to keep the saddle bags away from her chain and her tire. I think that my fenders are large enough to take care of the tire issue, but I’m going to install your saddlebags on my bike *tee hee* and see how they work.

    It’s good that you’ve still got all the “other” stuff to carry things on your bike (sissy bar, pack to attach to it, tank bag, the tiny handlebar bag, bungy cords, and the flamed backpack that came with your bike). All I’ve got at the moment are your tank bag and my backpack!

    I loved the comment above about the bike being a great way to save money. You haven’t saved a penny this year!

  3. SCD: We have a car, one that we hope to trade in for a hybrid later this year or early next year.

    Jenny: Yeah, at least the big bag/backpack that straps on the back of the sissybar will still work. I’m a little sad about not saving so much money, but I’m glad we’re a motorcycling family again.

  4. Oh, I dunno, Jenny. I understand that your motorcycle expenses are up recently, but you have to compare it to the alternative. Many people have a $500/month car payment. Scratch that. TWO $500/month car payments. Then they have to put gas in those cars, which these days is about $60/week/car, so that’s another $500 month, not to mention maintanance, etc. So if you are paying less than $1500-$1700/month on your 1 car and two motorcycles, you are doing well. Oh, plus insurance on motorcycles is less too, right?

    Personally, I don’t have any $500 car payments, since we drive old used cars, but instead I spend an average of $100 to $200 a month per car on maintanance and repairs. That’s right, around $3600 a year between the two cars. But that is still a LOT cheaper than two $500/month car payments. So you see, you guys are doing great.

    Good luck with the hybrid. I suppose you’ll pay a pretty penny for that, but hey, if that’s where you want to put your motorcycle savings, good for you. Enjoy.

  5. SCD: Is that really typical? I guess it’s just more evidence that most people have no clue how (and often no desire) to manage their finances.

    I never had a $500/mo car payment, and I bought both of my cars brand new. The payments on my first car was about $230/mo, and the second car was slightly less than that. But I made a point of not buying beyond my means, and of saving enough in advance to permit a substantial down-payment.

    Gas? Again, it really depends on what you’re driving and where. My commute is pretty short, and the car is efficient. I fill the tank about every two weeks (about $80/mo) for commuting. And when I take long trips, where it’s all highway driving, I routinely get 37-40MPG – with an ordinary non-hybrid car.

    You don’t have to do anything extraordinary to avoid getting caught up in the problems of “typical” Americans. You just have to have the sense that was supposedly common when we were growing up and think about what you’re doing before you do it.

  6. I agree with you Dave, but remember, you’re not exactly typical in more ways than one. Not just in your choices, but in your situation.

    You are sensible to buy relatively inexpensive cars and live near work. However, some people need (or choose) to live farther from work, and need bigger cars for their family situation.

    The typical new car these days costs at least 25K and easily can cost 30K or more. 30K over five years is $500/month. Figure some down payment offset by an interest rate higher than 0%, and you are back at $500/month.

    As for gas, I know you have a VERY fuel efficient car, and that that was a major factor in your picking it. Excellent forsight. But again, with kids etc., not always a practicle option. We had a GEO Prism for a long time, but found the trunk too small for strollers and things. So now I have a Camry. And my wife has a mini-van, which is quite essential some of the time, and since we can’t have a third car, she must commute in it too.

    Thus, 20-25 MPG is much more likely for most people, as is a 30 minute plus commute (government statistics). Mine is north of that because I choose to live near family and friends (and where house prices are lower, though still high.)

    P.S. I assume you’re not talking about me when you mention “typical” lack of common sense problems. But still, I don’t think it is a lack of common sense, I think it is personal priorities. Some people like fancy expensive cars. It is their passion, their hobby, etc. That’s fine with me. I choose to spend my money in other ways. (Massive mortgage payment anyone?) Does that mean I lack common sense? No, it’s just the way I like to allocate my money. And if someone else would prefer to save it up or something. That is their choice. Excellent.

  7. SCD,

    You made a few points about people “needing” to buy brand new, expensive, larger cars. I think that’s where the issue is. We own a new-when-we bought it car, and that’s been a bit of a tough point for me. Cars lose SO MUCH value in the first 1-2 years that I’ve never seen the point of buying a brand new car. This is D’s “yay, I graduated, I did it!” present to himself, though. He’d wanted this specific car, and interestingly enough, since bajas aren’t as popular, getting a used one is quite difficult and the dealer explained to him that it’s not really any savings.

    That being said, I had purchased a few cars in the past, and I always figured out my budget, how much I could afford per month, and then bought a car in that age range. I then shopped and shopped and shopped and shopped. This was distinctly harder when I was 21 years old, employed for less than a month, and a college drop-out searching dealerships because I didn’t know enough about cars to buy from some guy on the road (and also didn’t know you could get car loans for cars bought from the newspaper). I got two excellent cars, had both checked by mechanics before I purchased them, etc. The second car was $1,000 “beyond my means,” but D and I talked it over and there was some financial assistance from him (we lived together at the time but still had some separate financial stuff). Both cars were great. In 1996 I bought a 1991 Mazda Protege. I didn’t sell it or even have reason to sell it until about 2002 or 2003. It was a great car. I only sold it because I was living in a new city, the car was worth $1800 and I’d put almost that much into it in one year. If I’d lived someplace where I could find a good mechanic, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I found a good mechanic and bought a new car. My dad’s still driving my 1998 Honda Accord that I got for several thousand less than blue book value. He adores it. He compliments it regularly and hasn’t put more than $400 in it in a year (plus the very reasonable monthly dollar amount he sends me since we worked out a loan).

    So the issue is NEW cars. You already noted that you drive older cars to avoid the monthly fees. Well, a lot of people think that they need brand spanking new cars. If they don’t have that kind of money, they don’t need them. But they buy them because there’s this perception that you should buy brand new because “you won’t buy someone’s old problems.” However, if you buy from a reputable dealer who has actually checked the car out, you can get a very good, gently used car that will be well worth the cash. But so few people seem to think that’s a good idea anymore!

  8. Resale value only matters if you think you’re going to sell the car. I’ve only owned two cars so far, but the first one was kept well past the point of it having no resale value (11 years and over 200,000 miles.)

    I buy my cars new mostly, because I know I won’t have to deal with abuse from its previous owner. Having the full factory warranty and knowing that nobody else ever drove it means quite a bit to me.

    I’m not the only one I know who feels this way. Several friends of mine used to always buy used cars. All the up-front savings evaporated in the form of a constant need for repairs. When I convinced them to save up their money for a year or so, in order to buy a new car, they were extremely happy at not having to deal with things breaking at random times. And an extended warranty helps enormously if things go wrong when you’re pushing 5 years and 70,000 miles.

    Pay now, or pay later. Either way, you pay. Personally, I prefer paying up front, when I can plan it all in a budget.

  9. Sorry, I stopped reading for a while, and didn’t see the new comments.

    Consumer reports just had a big article and a long study on buying new cars versus used ones. Their conclusion: 1-3 year old cars are the best to buy, from a cost perspective.

    They calculate the cost of owning various model cars at various years old when you buy them (including new, zero) and operating them for the next five years. The savings over 5 years for buying a slightly used car is substantial, and improves every year. Thus 3 year-old cars save you the most, usually $10,000 or more over 5 years depending on the size of car.

    They acknowledge that many people don’t want to buy “someone else’s problems,’ but they say that even this perception actually increases the bargain for people that can get past that notion and obey some simple rules like, don’t buy problem makes/models (they give a list), have it checked by a mechanic, get a carfax history, etc. Plus, they say that many problems such as rust and exhaust, which used to be huge problems in older cars, are now virtually non-existent.

    Finally, their mathematical analysis shows that you spend much less on maintenance, even for an older car, than the cost of buying and insuring an newer one. So, as I stated earlier, and backed up by their research, it is worth it, even if you end up spending a couple of thousand a year in repairs, not to pay the high costs of buying new.

    Of course, if you like the new car smell, or status, or just the piece of mind of a known cost, and less trips to the mechanic, as I say, feel free to spend your money any way you enjoy.

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