Saturday, May 28, 2011

Car Payoff

It has been a long time coming and I would be lying if I said that I hadn't really been looking forward to it. After about two years of payments, finally enough money being in the emergency fund, there was enough to pay off the car. And that, about 26 months early! The best part was the phone call from Toyota. The service rep asked if there was any interest in buying a new car. Of course, they would offer a discount of 1% on any financing needed.

I just think that there is a tremendous amount of pressure both from the company and from the society in general to stay in debt. I wasn't that surprised, but everyone loves to have someone in some sort of hock to them. And this, is the real crux of a personal issue I am struggling with. Dave Ramsey is so strongly against debt, it makes me wonder if there are some cases where it makes sense. Regardless of your feelings on this issue, it undoubtedly is better to not have any debt. And this month is the first month that there will be no car payment--I'm already looking forward to the bills this month!

Next on the list is to make sure that there is money taken and put into savings as well as continuing to pay on the remaining non-mortgage debt which is the student loan. After that, the next item will be saving money for the next car. The goal eventually is to start buying the cars at least 50% cash and it would be great to start doing that with the next one. I wonder how many people do that already.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back From Trip to Europe

So, recently I went on the trip of a lifetime. I say that with a straight face because I truly think that I will never return to that part of the world in this lifetime for that kind of trip. The trip was to Monaco, Greece, Turkey, Italy and Cyprus. Originally it was to include Egypt and Israel but due to unrest in that part of the world, those destinations fell through.

Since this is a money blog, I will say that this trip was quite expensive for us; there were four of us that went total, all friends from back in my college days. This trip last two full weeks and the cost I am including includes meals and tours and activities for each day. Most of the days were aboard a cruise where the food and lodging were provided as part of the cost.

All told, this trip cost more than 5000 per person, USD. I am not saying that to brag, but merely to indicate the amount of difficulty for that kind of trip. Put simply, that was a serious percentage yearly earnings -- far more than I have ever spent before on a vacation. (It can be justified if you don't do it but once in your life.) All that said, it was a wonderful trip and there were lots of things that I was able to see that I didn't even know existed and I am a lot happier about my decision to go.

To reduce stress, a friend in the group arranged the trip, paid for items on her credit card to get the bonus points, and was reimbursed by me to pay the bill; this worked out quite well so that we didn't have to deal with being frustrated about the cost after the trip.

Besides saving money for a longer period up front than a normal vacation, there was really very little in terms of special things that I did. We're in the process now of deciding whether or not to go again and at this point it is difficult to tell whether we will do this again; largely due to the financial implications.