Thoughts After Experiencing Uber Firsthand

Uber is one of the more popular new things over the past couple of years.  I’ve read a lot about the benefits both of taking Uber for rides and driving for Uber as a way to make money.  The articles and posts are many, and the topic has always interested me, but I never took the opportunity to experience Uber firsthand until earlier this month.  I finally did and was really impressed!

Uber Here, Uber There, Uber Everywhere

While Uber has always interested me, I never had real cause to use it.  I have my own car, and if I want to go somewhere, I just drive there.  I surmised that many people probably use it as a way to go out and enjoy a few drinks, but at the age of 40 with two young kids, those opportunities are pretty rare, and sleep is often chosen instead even when the opportunity arises!

My sister-in-law recently started dating someone.  He’s a fun guy and still enjoys going out, and he uses Uber all the time.  He enjoys having a few drinks but is unwilling to risk driving, so he has been using Uber regularly for awhile.  I’d  heard about how he and my sister-in-law would go out from time to time and ‘Uber around’ and it piqued my interest even more.

Then, someone found out about a festival in the area that we all wanted to attend, and we made plans for the four of us to go.  The festival is near a downtown area and had various food and drink booths set up, and was focused around whiskey and barbeque food.  We made arrangements to drop off the kids at my parents so that we could attend, and it was a foregone conclusion that we’d Uber.

Here’s how it went.

  • Change of Plans  – My wife and sister-in-law both love the ‘rum runner’ from a place that happens to be on the way, so we decided to make a stop there on the way down.
  • Checked Uber – My sister-in-laws boyfriend has the Uber app on his phone, and he brought it up to look for a ride.  I wasn’t sure how it worked so he showed me. He was able to see that the nearest ride from our house was about 4 minutes away, and that you could see on a map exactly where they were driving in real-time.  Cool!  He called for the pickup.
  • Called the Uber driver – Once he called for the ride, he got more information, including the drivers name, cell phone number, and the type of car.  The car was a BMW, and he decided to call the driver to make sure that we weren’t going to get charged more, as better cars are often part of another class of service.  The driver confirmed that he was working in the ‘normal’ rates.
  • Four minutes later – Four minutes later, as promised, the driver pulled up to our house.  We got in.  The driver was a pretty nice guy, and asked if his car smelled OK, as his last pickup was a lady that worked at a restaurant preparing fish for lunch and dinner.  We all agreed the car smelled fine!  The drive down to the restaurant was about 15 miles, and took about 20 minutes.  Once we got out of the car, the fare came up as $15.71, if memory serves.
  • Down to the festival – After enjoying a round of drinks and an appetizer, it was time to go down to the festival.  Another pop up of the app and we saw a driver about two minutes away.  We quickly called for it and it pulled right up and let us in.  It was a quick trip down the street, about 4 miles, and the fare was around $7.
  • And later on back home – We stayed at the festival for a few hours, stopping at a couple of bars so that we could sit down as well (it was hot plus it rained some), and by 11pm, we were ready to head back.  We actually called for one Uber, then cancelled it, because it was coming faster than we were ready for.  My brother-in-law was worried that he’d get rated by the Uber driver.  I haven’t confirmed whether or not that happened.  Finally, when we were ready to go, another ‘call’ was made and we were zipping home within five minutes of the call.  The driver took a detour on the way home due to some road construction that had the freeway jammed up, so it took a few minutes longer than we expected, but the fare was still just over $20.  He and my sister-in-law had the driver stick around and they started another fare to get to his house, which I know went just fine.

Impressions of Uber

  • Price – The price was awesome.  Between the four of us, it cost just over $40 for three trips. No cab service in the world could beat that.
  • Speed – In all cases, the speed of the pickup was incredible.  It helped that all of the pickups and dropoffs are in areas that are well traveled, but given the fact that Uber has a potentially unlimited number of drivers, waiting was not a problem at all.  Each of the drivers said that they chose to work that day, and did so because they knew the fares were out there and they’d keep busy.
  • Drivers and Cars – All of the drivers were nice and all of the cars were in good shape and very clean.  I believe that each driver was given 5 stars (apparently the rating system is very important ).

My Final Thought

The final thought that I want to put out there was one that I had early on in the night: I wish Uber had been out there back in my days of being single and going out.

Back then, going out was always more complicated because of the driving situation.  We’d gather at someone’s house,mb-2015-07-club and it always made sense to gather at the house closest to where we were going, which was sometimes a hassle because sometimes we’d be at the same persons house over and over, or other times people would have to drive a long ways just to get there.  Then, you’d get there and you’d have to make the decision on what to do about going out.  Call a cab, and it’s $70 one way, an hour and fifteen minutes, and guess what, it’ll probably be even longer when you call from your pickup at the same spot everyone is using.  Lovely.  So, then, you start looking around the group and see if anybody feels like not drinking that night, or worse yet, you find someone that says they’ll ‘just have a couple’ and hope that ‘just a couple’ sticks and even if it does, know you’re possibly taking a chance anyways.

Thankfully, back in our days of going out, nobody ever got in an accident and nobody ever got pulled over or anything like that, but I can’t tell you the number of times that we would have preferred not driving.  Uber would have been perfect.  It was affordable, at the ready, and reliable.

Overall, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Now, we probably won’t use it much, but even if we want to go out once in a while and know that we might each want more than a drink or two, it makes perfect sense to take Uber.  It’d be silly not to!

Readers, what do you think about Uber? Any drivers or users out there?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Can E-Cigs Save Smokers Money?

Aside from the many well-known  negative consequences smoking has on your health, the constant increase of taxes has meant the cost of buying traditional cigarettes will put a major dent in your spending budget. And with governments becoming more and more strict on habits that increase the cost of healthcare, the price of cigarettes is only set to increase.

If you’re a smoker and are looking for a cheaper option that will also give you the opportunity to kick the habit altogether, than making the switch to E-cigarettes is a perfect choice for you. Here’s why you should make the switch.

Blu Cigs New Pack

It will save you money

Health organizations have calculated that smoking only 10 cigarettes a day will add up to a cost of nearly $800 after six months, $1700 after a year, and ten years down the line your total cost of smoking will be up over a whopping $17000 (especially if you live in a state where cigarettes are highly taxed). Currently, the average smoker actually smokes a little over 12 cigarettes a day. Switching to E-cigarettes gives smokers a great opportunity to save, as the average E-cig cost for the equivalent of one pack of traditional cigarettes is only a fraction of the price.

How do E-cigs save you money?

E-cigs save you money because they reduce the cost of producing the substance that provides its users with nicotine, they’re not as heavily taxed as traditional cigarettes, and they don’t require the massive amounts of packaging that tobacco and fire cigarettes do.

In fact, the only substantial cost of switching to E-cigs comes when you buy your starter kit, which includes your e-cigarette, charger, and e-liquid (the substance which contains the nicotine). After purchasing your starter kit, the remaining costs come in the form of ecigs refills, which are done simply by  refilling your E-cig with the E-liquid, which can purchased at a low cost in bulk form.

Blu E Cig Battery

The ultimate savings comes in quitting

Starting in 2016 various health organizations throughout the world will adopt the E-cig as their most recent form for quitting smoking altogether, which obviously will provide an ex-smoker with the largest possible savings. The E-cig allows its users to quit by monitoring their intake of nicotine and gently reducing it over time until they no longer are addicted to the substance. Different types of E-liquid can be purchased with varying strengths of nicotine, making it easy for E-cig users to create a schedule and plan to help them achieve their goal of quitting.

Whether you’re simply looking for a cheaper option to traditional cigarettes, or want to find a way to live a nicotine free life, making the switch to E-cigs is the best way to save you money.

Some content in this post was provided by an outside party.  Images by  Lindsay Fox and  Ecig Click used under the Creative Commons License.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Another Big Hack And Nothing To Worry About For Me!

Man, it seems that every time you turn around there’s another company that’s gotten hacked with some sort of data breach.  Target, Home Depot, and many others have all hit the news over the past months.  Those are some big names, so it should probably be of no big surprise that the biggest website for those looking to cheat on their spouses got hacked.

That’s right, Ashley Madison, home of the “Life is short, have an affair” slogan, announced that their databases were hacked.  The company hasn’t officially released information about what exactly was hacked, but I have to believe that there are probably a lot of nervous people out there right about now, and I’ll also bet that there’s a lot of people worried about a lot more than whether their credit card data was part of the breach!

Dangerous Information

In most hacks, there are a few key pieces of information that are probably the most valuable to hackers and the most damaging to someone whose information is compromised:

  • Credit Card Number
  • Other Credit Card Details (expiration dates, validation codes)
  • Social Security Numbers

With this hack, those items are certainly key, but it seems a lot of other information could land someone in the mb-2015-07-doghousedoghouse, even so much as:

  • First and Last Name
  • E-mail Address

Might Ordinary People Pay These Hackers?

In most cases of hacking, the information contains value, but do we really know who might be on the other end of those transactions?  If a hacker steals data, you picture the parties that might buy that data as someone overseas, or a shady criminal or someone using their computer hiding in a dark basement in the thick of night.

With this hack, the people that might pay for the data could be sitting right next to you.

If someone were to suspect their spouse of having an affair, it might be worth putting $10 in the hands of ‘the bad guys’ to have the opportunity to look up a few e-mail addresses against the Ashley Madison database, don’t you think?

While some cheaters might first create a new e-mail address that their spouse doesn’t know about, many probably don’t go through the trouble.  If a suspecting spouse knows their work e-mail, their current personal e-mail, and their college e-mail address that’s no longer appropriate for everyday use, that’s three chances that would probably uncover a lot of potentially cheating spouses.

Worth $10 for three chances?  If I suspected my spouse of cheating, that’d be money well spent.

No Suspicions Or Anything To Hide

Thankfully, I have no suspicions of my wife and I can state that any lookup of any of my addresses would come up clean.

Cheating is one of those things that’s a show stopper for me.  I’ve been cheated on, and when I found out, I broke up with the girl.  At the time, I thought she was my soulmate, and breaking up was the one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but I did it and looking back, I’m glad I kept my resolve.  The closest I ever came to cheating was kissing another girl while in a relationship.  That was twenty years ago. And I told my then-girlfriend almost immediately.

That’s the beginning and end of my ‘cheating’ experiences.

That’s why the whole premise of Ashley Madison always kind of disgusted me.  It didn’t surprise me that a site like that existed.  There’s something for everybody, and as long as its not illegal, you can best bet that someone is going to find a way to profit from it.  Since you can’t go to jail for cheating, someone seized the opportunity and presumably a lot of people made lots of money.

Now, if this hack threatens the personal information that could be damning for those who signed up or used the service, it could end up costing a lot of people a lot of money, sleep, and a lot more.

But, maybe that’s the risk one takes if you decide to go out looking to cheat on your spouse.  I’m just guessing on that, though!

Readers, what do you think of the Ashley Madison hack?  Did anyone you know pop into mind as someone who might be in some hot water?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

When It’s Time To Stock Down On Groceries

It’s common advice to ‘stock up’ on certain grocery items.  If you can buy stuff that you will use regardless, get it at a good price, and use it before it goes bad, then there are many advantages to stocking up.  Some examples on things that are great to stock up on include:

  • Dry pasta
  • Cereal
  • Crackers and snacks
  • Bottled or canned beverages
  • Canned goods such as soups and vegetables
  • Frozen meat

There are many examples.  As noted above, the key to stocking up is to make sure you’re buying items that you plan on using.  If hamburger meat is on sale, but you don’t eat much red meat, then stocking up probably isn’t such a great idea.

Stocking Down

Buying stuff on sale and saving it for later is great, but at a certain point you have to use all of that stuff.  Using up your stock is what I refer to as ‘stocking down’.  This is important to do on a regular basis.  Here are a few tips on when to stock down and how to do it:

  1. Keep up on expiration dates – If you buy stuff and it goes bad before you use it, then you’ve missed the point completely.  Whenever possible, we rotate our stocked items so that the oldest stuff is in the front and the newest stuff is in the back.  I’ll also go through certain categories periodically and look at the expiration dates.  If it looks like we’re coming up on needing to use stuff, we’ll start planning more diligently around those particular items.
  2. Be considerate of space – I watched a couple episodes of the show Extreme Couponing back when it first mb-2015-07-pantrycame out.  I stopped watching because the people featured annoyed me to a degree that I couldn’t be bothered with anymore.  One of the things that killed me is that so many of the people had to build extra shelving and take up space in their homes to accommodate all of the stuff they were stocking up on.  Most rational people aren’t going to do that, and will instead limit themselves to a pantry, some cupboards, and maybe some shelves in the basement.  If you see that you’re starting to run out of space, then it’s time to stop stocking up an to start stocking down.
  3. Note your high spending months – We keep track of what we spend on groceries each month.  Now that we have a history of that, I’d like to start looking at those numbers in greater detail.  If there are particular months of the year where grocery bills seem higher, it could be a good idea to plan on reducing costs during those months by stocking down.
  4. Take advantage of pricing patterns – Many times, you can plan on stocking up on items during certain parts of the year.  Around the holidays is a great time to stock up on baking items.  Summertime will always find you great deals on hot dogs.  If you know you’ll use these items at other points in the year when the items typically aren’t on sale, stock up accordingly, and don’t forget to stock down during the off months!
  5. Know that you’ll still need to buy some stuff – When you stock down, it’s pretty rare that you can completely eliminate having to buy groceries.  Don’t go in with this approach.  Instead, understand that your goal should be to use as many of the items as you could with the idea that you’ll reduce, not eliminate, your grocery bill.  But, even if you can plan on getting 50% of your ingredients for your weekly meals from your stock, that will greatly help out your weekly grocery bill.

Stocking up on items can be an important strategy to saving money, but working through and using up those items and doing so with a solid plan is also an important part of the money saving opportunities that are possible.

Readers, what do you do to make sure that you stock down on the items which you’ve stocked up on?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.