Camping 2016 Season By The Numbers

This past weekend, we took our final camping trip of the year, and capped it off by getting the RV trailer shut down and stored for the winter.  We had a great season and I thought it’d be fun to recap by sharing some numbers:

# of Days in the Active Season – Our first night of camping was May 26th and our final day of using it was October 9th.

# of Camping Trips Taken

# of Nights Camping

# of Michigan State Parks we camped at

# of parks that were ‘new’ to us this season

# of Tow Vehicles we used to tow our trailer

# of Miles Towed to get to and from our trip

# of round trip miles to the campground furthest away

# of times we camped there

# of round trip miles to the campground closest

# of times we camped there

# of total sleeping configurations (seven trips had our family of four, one trip had my wife & I as well as my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, and one trip was a boys weekend with just my son and I)

# of times our outside rug got flooded during thunderstorms

# of days we got to spend at a beach while camping

# of birthdays we got to celebrate while camping

# of 30-amp extension cords that partially melted from overheating

# of bottle of anti-freeze I thought I had when getting ready to winterize for the season

# of bottles of anti-freeze I actually had

# of memories created this season

# of days until the first day of camping in 2017

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.

If You’re Told To Evacuate, Then Evacuate

Hurricane Matthew hit the United States over a week ago now, but the cleanup and damage assessment still goes on.  One of the things that I saw in the days after Matthew was finding people that had died or that needed to be rescued.  While I felt bad for the people, I had a nagging feeling that many of the people that died could have lived and many of the people that needed rescued could have avoided their harrowing situation had they done what many of their neighbors had done, which was to get out of dodge.

Matthew didn’t come out of nowhere.  It didn’t go wildly off course (and the times it did actually helped things from being worse as it stayed further offshore than anticipated during the strongest points).  So, if it wasn’t a big surprise, how come so many people still ended up in harms way?

Simple, because most of them didn’t listen.

Evacuation was suggested.  In some cases it was more than a suggestion.  It was basically a ‘get out now’ mandate.  The thing is that people can’t be forced to evacuate, so while many smart people got out, many decided to stay and tough it out.

I’m sure that some of these people made it through just fine, but others didn’t come through.  Instead, some people died.  Some people had to be rescued.  Some people lost pets.

Lives and money could have been saved.  Every person that loses their life to a storm like this is a tragedy, but I can’t help but feel that some deaths could be avoided if more people left.

Similarly, every person that’s rescued is a great story, but rescues cost money and they put the people doing the mb-2016-10-stormrescuers in harms way as well.

I’m lucky in that I live in Michigan and we don’t get hurricanes.  The worst we typically get from  a hurricane is once it’s done and finishes its path and we’ll get a bunch of rain for a couple of days.  I get it.  We have it good.  But, I can’t understand why people don’t leave when they ought to and they’ve been told to.  This isn’t 1916 when I imagine hurricane warnings often consisted of someone looking out to shore and saying “Uh-oh, hurricane”).  In those times, devastation and loss of life was a lot more unavoidable.

But we can avoid it now.

And we should.

So the question is, when will we start avoiding it for good?  When will we have a storm that comes and wreaks havoc on buildings and roads and beaches, but doesn’t claim a human life?

It can happen.  But it doesn’t.

Maybe some day.

Readers, why do you think that people choose not to leave in this day in age when forecasting and communication combine to make it so much easier?  Have you ever stuck around in a storm?  How did you feel about it later?

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.

Are Installment Loans the Right Choice For You

Life happens and unexpected expenses, with even planned events such as a wedding or home improvement project, can send any household budget into a frenzy. Not only that, but the stress alone can also take a toll on your health. In these instances, taking out an installment loan may be the answer to your problems.

An installment loan generally has set scheduled payments due on a particular date each month. Some examples are your mortgage, a car loan and student loans. Generally, the determined  interest rate comes from the market and your credit score. Before increasing your monthly budget, make sure that you are comfortable with the amount you’ll have to pay. Remember, if it ends up that you miss or make a few late payments, your credit score can take a hit that may take months, even years to recover.

There are also other types of loans with short-term repayment terms that might offer a better option. While the payments each month will be higher, you will lose the loan faster, paying it off in months instead of years. A payday loan is an easy to acquire loan well-suited for someone that does not own a home and has a less than stellar credit rating. However, this type of loan also comes with high-interest penalties, sometimes even more than the initial loan itself and the terms of repayment are limited. Yet another choice and a better alternative to the predatory payday loan is to look at fast installment loans. Personal cash loans and installment loans in amounts up to $1250 as an alternative option to payday lending. Key benefits include minimal eligibility requirements, fast-funding and flexible repayment. Qualified applicants must have a social security number, an active checking account, and a verifiable source of income.

Taking out an installment loan can also help you improve your credit score. This, of course, depends on how many other open sources of credit you already have. If you have only a couple of credit cards and a mortgage, an installment loan paid on time will show credit worthiness. However, if you already have many credit cards with high balances, a car payment and a mortgage, your debt to income ratio could be a red flag for a potential lender.

Ultimately, it’s always best to plan for a major purchase, an event or a remodel, by having the funds set aside in a savings account. This way there is no pending bill that will increase your monthly expenses. Of course, if it’s something that’s unavoidable, you have to go with the option that works best for your situation. Installment loans offer an affordable way to pay for the expense over time. If you have a mortgage in good standing, check with the bank you use first, to see if you can acquire a HELOC or a personal loan. The interest rates are generally lower and repayment terms can range from a few years and up.

When it comes to taking on debt always make sure that it’s something you can handle and something that you need now. Establishing a savings account and building up the money so that you can pay it off without interest is the better way to go. If it’s a home improvement project or a car payment, delaying the purchase or work order until you have the money saved can help you enjoy your life to the fullest without the added stress of being just one paycheck away from poverty.

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.

Who Are Your Joneses?

Keeping up with the Joneses.  We’ve all heard it.  We know what it means.  Hopefully we don’t do it.

But, since most people that you start comparing yourself to probably aren’t actually named Jones (though, some might be), I wonder who your Joneses are.  Meaning, who are the people that, when you see them, make you want to ‘keep up’?

For me, I don’t have actual people, but the people who fall into these groups are definitely my triggers.

  • People who build brand new houses – I remember when my parents went through the process of building a new home back in the late 1980’s.  Although even then I knew that it was a stressful process (I remember mb-2016-10-constructionmore than story of my dad getting into near-shouting matches with the builder), it was fascinating to me to see ideas on paper and a piece of land get transformed into a home, and was something I wanted to do someday.  So far, I haven’t had the opportunity, so when I see people that are going through that process, it definitely strikes a chord.
  • People who remodel their kitchens – I’ve never had a granite countertop in any place where I’ve lived.  It’s been all laminiate counters for me.  Our home has a decent enough kitchen, but it is a late-1990’s kitchen that was, even then, fitted with the basics.  It’s functional but it’s nothing fancy. Although we’ve replaced the sinks, faucets, and dishwasher, it’s still very much a basic 1990’s kitchen.  Although we have no plans to replace it, I have to admit, when I see the photos on Facebook and such of people that do a kitchen remodel, I ‘want one’!

For me, these are the big groups that bring out the most longing, even if it is fleeting (which it is).  It doesn’t bring out the desire to go out and build a new house or start a new project, but more the thought process of ‘if only….’.  Eventually I realize that we have a great house and, compared to many I’ve seen, our kitchen is just fine.

So, just curious, readers, who are your Joneses, and to what level does it strike you?  How do you go about moving on when your trigger points bring out that feeling?  

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.