Will You Tip Your Uber Driver Now?

Finally, after a lot of battling, Uber will add a feature to allow you to tip your Uber driver.  This has never been built in, and it’s left a lot of confusion and hard feelings.  Many passengers are confused as to whether tips are acceptable.

No Tipping Confusion

With Uber you can do everything from your phone.  You arrange your ride, set your drop off location, pick your type of car, and pay.  So, if everything is self-inclusive but there’s no tip, many think that tipping isn’t encouraged.  I know that on our first rides, we assumed that there was no tipping allowed.  So, we never did.

Then, after the lack of tipping started getting attention, we realized we may have been making a mistake.  In fact, it could have even affected our passenger rating.  Yes, with Uber both the driver and passenger rate each other.

Even once we realized that tipping was allowed, it was still confusing in many ways.  Since you couldn’t do it through the app, you have to leave cash.  Some people don’t carry cash.  Or, if you do you might have larger bills.  (I don’t know, is it OK to ask the driver to make change for a tip?)

Case in point: When we took our Florida trip this past spring, we used Uber to fill our driving needs.  We always tipped, except the one time when both of us left our cash in the condo, and we couldn’t tip the driver.  What made it worse is that she was probably the best driver we had out of all those on the trip.

So, it’ll be nice to eliminate the confusion.

No More Hard Feelings

Drivers started to get a little annoyed by the no tipping feature.  The issue was brought to light by drivers, which is what got it media attention in the first place.  I know a lot of drivers work both Lyft and Uber, so when Lyft added the option to tip, it probably made it less favorable for many drivers to continue with Uber.

I know that Uber has been in the news with a lot of negative publicity lately.  So much so that their founder and CEO resigned.

Hopefully this starts turning things around.  I would think that whether things go good or bad has to do a lot with drivers.  Better paid drivers seems to mean happier drivers.  So, hopefully it’s a start.

Readers, do you Uber?  Will you be using the tip feature? Have you tipped previously?  Let me know your thoughts on the whole matter in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 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.

Personal Finance Finesse: Leveraging the Third Paycheck Theory

There are pros and cons attached to getting paid bi-weekly, when twice a year you receive a third paycheck.  Most people budget on a monthly basis, accounting for two paychecks.  When this third paycheck comes around, it’s often money with no budget category!

It’s always a good feeling to get more money in the bank in some months when that magical third paycheck gets to happen.  But the wise will make the most of that sudden windfall scenario.

Here are some pointers on how to take the best advantage of that extra cash to improve your financial position.  This will include a quick explanation of how you end up with more money in certain months.  You’ll also get  some tips on how to get the maximum benefit from the boost to your finances.

Do the math

So how do you get that third paycheck?  Well, for bi-weekly payments it’s a pretty easy calculation.  There are twelve months to a year, right?  Most months see you getting two paychecks.  That works out to 24 paychecks we budget for.  Still with me?  But there are 52 weeks per year, meaning that you actually get 26 paychecks.  That’s two extra!

The obvious thing to do when working out your pay dates would be to say that you are paid every two weeks on a Friday.  So you get two paychecks per month, except for those months when the stars align and you wind up with three.

Making the most of the situation

If you sometimes find yourself stretched and need a short-term loan to see you through, you can view more from King of Kash on that score.  A good strategy to also consider would be to work out when those two magic months are coming and put aside the extra cash into an emergency fund.

If you only get a third paycheck a couple of months a year you definitely have to take advantage of the situation.  Put that extra cash to good use rather than being tempted to go and blow some of it on extra treats.

Saving your extra money like this is a really neat budgeting trick that is as painless as it is sensible.  Once you have your finances sorted and are used to being paid bi-weekly, you should be able to put aside that third paycheck when it comes.  Over time, you’ll build a nice cushion.

Pay down debt

Another good way of making the most of your opportunity would be to use the extra paycheck to pay off some debt.

Image from Morguefile courtesy of xenia

You can use this to pay down a credit card whose balance never seems to budget.  Or, wipe out a small loan payment that has a high interest rate.  If you pay something off completely, you’ll have the extra advantage of more cash flow flexibility.

It might not feel like a major step when you pay a chunk off your credit card balance but the net effect is a good one as you are reducing your debt profile and saving some interest charges at the same time.

Put it towards retirement

The plain truth is that you can never have enough money in your retirement fund. So, putting your extra pay toward retirement savings is a very sensible strategy.

The general suggestion is that you need to save at least 10% of your income towards retirement.  In reality, you could use more in order to have a comfortable retirement.  This is even more important if you waited to start saving until your thirties (or later).

Reduce your monthly payments

If you pay your auto insurance and other insurance payments monthly rather than annually that can add up to a fair amount each month out of your bi-weekly wages.

You might want to consider using the third paycheck to pay an insurance policy in full.

This will free up more cash on a monthly basis when you take one or two annual financial commitments out of your monthly budgeting schedule by paying the amount due in one hit.

Take a break

If you don’t like the sound of using your third paycheck to improve your debt, you could consider planning a vacation.  Before you sound the alarms, let’s face facts that everybody needs a break now and then.  If you’ve gone on four vacations in the last year, maybe this isn’t for you.  But, if you have avoided a trip away, a mind clearing time away could be just the ticket.

Besides, if you pay for the vacation, that means you won’t be borrowing or adding to your credit card debt.  At the very least, you won’t be falling behind.

The third paycheck is not just a theory but a mathematical reality for many.  Make the most of that extra cash when it comes along if you are paid bi-weekly.

Aimee Pope is a financial consultant. She likes to help people manage their money better by posting on various family and finance blogs.

Copyright 2017 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.

Making Our Craigslist Selling List

Have you used Craigslist for buying and selling?  We have used it occasionally, but I think it’s time to consider stepping it up a notch.  As I look around the house, I realize that we have a lot to sell.  It’s time to make our Craigslist selling list.

Early Returns

We have a garage full of kids riding toys that we have no use for.  Tricycles, smaller bikes, and scooters for young tots were great.  But they’re not needed anymore as our kids are way too big.

I’m of the opinion that toys are meant to be played with and to bring kids joy.  These things aren’t happening with toys that sit collecting cobwebs.

There were eleven such items in the garage.  I noted their condition.  I went online to look at what the items would cost new.  In most cases, I settled on a price around half of what it would be new.  And, I listed ten of them.

Within a week and a half, four of the items sold.  We sold a boys bike, a balance bike, a tricycle, and a Cozy Coupe.  Nobody haggled on the price, so I think the method I used was fair.

As for the other six items, I’ve got two ideas.  I may lower the price.  I also may use Facebook Marketplace, which I guess is pretty popular for kids toys and such.

Either way, it’s nice to have even four items gone and some money to take its place.

Expanding Our Reach

In the past, I haven’t used Craigslist to do much selling.  And, when I did it was for about the most complicated items you could sell.  Cars.  I’ve sold several cars over the years.  While the transactions always ended up well, it wasn’t easy.  You had a lot of crackpots or easily spotted scammers.  There were a lot of lowball offers.

I guess I assumed that’s how it was for just about everything.

But these toys went so quickly and the sales were so easy that it gave me hope.

I started looking around and realized that we have a lot of things around the house that are serving no purpose.  These seem like they would make great Craigslist items.

A First Glance At Our Craigslist Selling List

Just off the top off my head, I can think of a whole slew of items we’d like to sell.  Here’s a few:

  • An old couch and chair just sitting in the basement.  It’s nothing fancy but could probably fetch $50.
  • An exercise bike that works but that I just don’t care to use.  I would guess I could get $75 or so.
  • A brake controller that I used to tow our RV in our previous vehicle.  These are at least $100 new so I would think at least $50 could be had.
  • A little plastic slide in the backyard that was great when the kids were two but now looks ridiculous when they try to play with it.

And those are just the items I can think of.

My goal is to walk around the house and look through each room and write down any items I can think of.

To keep my sanity, I would not list every item all at once.  But keeping 5-10 items listed at all times seems manageable, doesn’t it?

I also need to decide on a strategy of what to do if something doesn’t sell.  Do I offer it for free?  Do I take it to Salvation Army? These are things I need to have a plan for.

I think Craigslist or the similar sites can be great for us to clear out some of the clutter that we have.  I’m hoping to get moving on this now that I’ve had some early success.

Readers, do you regularly use Craigslist or a similar site to sell items that you don’t need?  Any tips or tricks for me or other readers?  Please let me know in the comments below.

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Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: Which Worked Better?

I add new mulch about every two years to the beds around our house.  Up until now, I’ve always used bagged mulch.  We had an SUV so it was easy enough to load up the back with as many bags as we could.  This was my first time having a pickup truck, so we decided to try getting bulk mulch.  This helped us evaluate whether bagged mulch or bulk was better for us.

We normally purchase bagged mulch from Lowes or Home Depot.  We found a place that sells mulch by the yard just a mile away from our home.  Basically, they just dump as much as you need (by the half-yard) into your truck.

Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: The Factors

image from morguefile via Kymmy
  • Getting The Mulch.   Driving up and having a load of mulch dumped in the truck took a few minutes.  Loading up the SUV with bags took quite a while.  Winner: Bulk.
  • Price.  I can usually get bagged mulch for $2 per bag.  It takes 13 bags to make a cubic yard, so it works out to $27 per bag.  The bulk mulch was $32 per yard, but I’m pretty sure they err on the top side.  Winner: Draw.
  • Quality.  This is probably too soon to tell.  People complain if the mulch breaks down too fast, loses color too fast, or actually grows weeds.  The quality of the bagged mulch has been OK.  In looking at the website of the place we got the bulk mulch from, they are very meticulous about what goes into making their mulch.  They also treat it for weeds and such.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Winner: To Be Determined.
  • Spreading the Mulch.  This was a total reverse of the first item.  Hands down, taking bags of mulch from the SUV to their needed location, then popping open the bag, was much easier than having to shovel mulch from the truck into a wheel barrow.  In fact, I felt that I gave up the advantage of the loading and then some.

Do We Have A Winner?

For the record we went through three yards of mulch this year.  That’s probably the most I’ve ever used.

So, if the factors above are equal, then right now it would look like I’d favor using bagged mulch.  But this is based only on three of four known variables.  Price is a draw, and the time to load and unload the mulch slightly favors the bags.  So if it was only on those factors, bagged would win.

However, quality is a pretty big unknown variable.  If this mulch knocks our socks off, then it might be worth the extra time it takes.  I guess the question is, can mulch really knock your socks off?

Readers, what do you think?  Is buying mulch in bags or in bulk a better option? Do you lay your own mulch or do you have someone do it?  Let me know your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 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.