Why You Don’t Always Need To Complain About Price Increases

My wife alerted me of a price increase for a regular purchase.  She pointed out that our annual zoo membership would be going up to $99.  Previously, we paid $79.  At first, I was a little taken aback. After all, that’s nearly a 25% increase.  But then I started doing some math.  Within a few minutes I was fine with the increase.  See, I don’t complain about price increases every time.  Only when it’s justified! 🙂

Zoo Membership Is Still A Good Deal

A couple of years ago, I calculated the break even point for the zoo.  At the time, the family membership was $79.  A trip for our family of four would cost $53 without a membership.  This meant that on our second trip, we would be saving money.

With the new increase in memberships, they also raised individual tickets prices.  A trip for our family would now cost $60.  So, even with the 25% increase in our cost, we’re still saving money starting with our second trip.

Considering that we go at least 1-2 times per month on average, I’d say we’re doing just fine.

Why The 25% Increase Doesn’t Bother Me

Normally, I rail on big price increases.  When price increases dramatically outpace inflation, that’s usually a big sore point for me.  But not this time. Why?

  • Time Between Increases.  We were paying $79 for at least 3 years.  Maybe even a year or two longer.  So, when you average out the price increase over several years, it averages out to around 6-8% per year at most.
  • Improvements.  I get upset at increases when you don’t see value in the increase.  I just wrote about how Disney is now charging for parking.  This one bugs me because the increase to the consumer offers no additional value.  But, this isn’t the case with the zoo at all.  The zoo is constantly improving things.  They recently opened the world’s biggest penguinarium.  They are refurbishing the tiger and red panda exhibits this year.  In fact, every year, they update at least two exhibits.  Last year they adding a parking lot.  You get the point!  Our zoo is world class, and they are constantly making it stay that way.  I have no problem paying more since I can see value in my dollars.
  • Fun.  The zoo is just a great time.  Every time you go you see different things.  Some animal is doing something different, or they have a new baby somewhere.  I don’t think we’ve ever had an awful experience.

When Those Who Complain The Loudest Don’t Even Have A Right

Later in the day, my wife and I were talking about the increase.  She told me that someone in her Facebook feed was livid.  She went on this big rant and was complaining about the cost that she purchased.  She purchases this pass that allows you to bring in up to five kids and it was going to cost her around $60 per year more.

But here’s the thing.

She only has one kid!

She was bringing in her nieces and nephews and friends of her kids.  That’s totally a violation of the membership agreement!  Here she is breaking the rules and having the nerve to complain that it’s costing her money.

All my wife and I could do was shake our heads at the irony.   We kept hoping that someone in her Facebook thread would point out her hypocrisy, but nobody did.  And, you know it would have sailed right over her head anyway.

As my dad is fond of saying, it takes all kinds!

In any case, our zoo membership will be renewed without hesitation this year.

Readers, what do you use to determine if a price increase is justified or not?  What are some examples of increases that you have hated versus those you’ve been OK with?  Please drop a comment and let me know.

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.

What If I Had A Million Dollars

It’s kind of a cool idea, isn’t it?  To think about someone walking up and handing over a bundle of cash.  What would you do?  How would it change your life?  Here’s some things I would do if I had a million dollars all of a sudden.

The Goal: Less Worry

I would have a goal if I got a big pile of money.  That goal would be to use the money to provide financial security.  A million dollars would be awesome.  It wouldn’t be enough to retire at the age of 43.  Yet, it would be enough to provide security in many ways.  I would also want to take away as much of the day to day worry that money can bring.

The Spend

I would send away some of the money on a few things.

  • Pay off all debts.  The mortgage and student loans would be gone.  There’s hardly any better security I can think of than to have all assets and no debts!
  • Splurge.  I would probably look at a few items.  We’d definitely get a new camper.  I would upgrade some things around the house.  I’m thinking flooring, and some light kitchen and bath work.  I’d probably have the inside professionally painted.
  • Take care of college.  I’d make sure that the kids college funds were fully funded.  We contribute now, but I don’t think what we’re setting aside will fully cover the costs.  It would be a goal to close that gap.
  • I’d treat immediate family.  I’d make sure to splurge on family who have helped us along the way.  Maybe a luxury vacation or something along those lines.
  • Donate.  I would want to use the money to give something back.  Right now we give, but not enough to where it makes a direct difference.  Instead, the money helps when it’s combined with that of others.  I’d like to use some money to know that we’re directly making a difference in some way.

The Save

Most of the money would probably be saved. I’d look at funneling as much as possible toward our retirement accounts.  I’d work with a financial adviser to invest a chunk.

It’s funny because this section is noticeably shorter than the section above.  That’s for a reason.  Saving isn’t sexy.  Spending is fun to think about.  But, in the end, more of the $1 million would be saved than spent.  Once you get it to the right accounts, it just sits there.  And takes care of you.  Which is the cool part, no?

The bottom line is that I’d want to make sure that the money provided a foundation for years to come.  Five years. Ten years. Twenty years. However long it is, I’d want to be able to see that money working.  This is possible if done right.

Dreaming

Most people will never receive a million dollars in their lifetime.  Still, it’s fun to dream, isn’t it?

What would you do with a million dollars?  Share your ideas and dreams in the comments below.

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.

Thoughts Following The Great American Eclipse

The eclipse was just about all that anybody was talking about a couple of days ago.  It was definitely eclipse fever.  Now that it’s done and over, I wanted to share some random thoughts.

The Past Was Fun To See

One of my favorite parts of the coverage leading up was showing old news reports or articles that talked about the eclipse.  One clip from a nightly news show was 38 years ago.  Also, I saw a newspaper clipping published 22 years ago which mentioned it.  I’m sure that back then, August 21, 2017 seemed so far away.

The Hype Machine Was Huge

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an event that was given so much hype.  Now that media reaches everywhere, the discussion seemed endless.  You wonder if this event had happened 40 years ago how it would have been covered.

Safety Was Big

It was interesting to see how much time was spent on how to view the eclipse safely. I suppose this was so that we didn’t launch a generation of blind people all in one day!  One of the more interesting parts of this was to do with pets.  Animals instinctively know not to look at the sun.  Even so, just about every recommendation I saw told people to keep pets indoors. I wonder how many puddles were cleaned up by pet owners that day!

People Are Greedy

It was sad to see the shortage of eclipse glasses.  It was even worse to see legit glasses being sold online for many times what they were purchased for.  The worst was the reports of fake glasses.  Around where I lived there was not a single pair to be found for days beforehand.  I have to believe a good chunk of this was a result of greed.

We’ve Overpopulated Ourselves

Hotel rooms in some cities were booked months or years in advance.  Campgrounds were the same way.  Highways had hours long backups going into and out of the popular areas.  Glasses were sold out for weeks.  I imagine that 50 or 100 years ago, such an event would not have had people pushing each other out of the way, so to speak.  Have we overpopulated the planet?  We may be at or near a tipping point.

My Favorite Part

In Michigan, we had about 80 percent of the sun covered.  I was at work, and it was really cool to see how dim the sky got.  I looked out the window at one point and commented that it was cloudy.  But it wasn’t!  It was clear skies but the sunshine was much dimmer than normal.  I thought it was pretty cool.

People Came Through And Made The Best Of It

In the end, the eclipse was a great event.  The eclipse got people talking about something that was a positive thing, for the most part.  It also got kids and adults excited for science.  Even when not everybody had safety glasses, people in crowds shared them.  In the end it was a good time.  We’ll get even more coverage during the next eclipse in 2024, so I’m looking forward to that.    Until then!

Readers, what was your experience during the eclipse?  Did you get caught up in the hype?  Share your thoughts and 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.

10 Thoughts On Our First Week Long Camping Trip of 2017

We generally do a week long camping trip twice per summer.  One is always over the 4th of July week.  We wrapped up our trip and it was a success.  I thought I’d share some of our (mostly) ups and downs, as well as a few laugh out loud moments.

The Popularity of Outdoor Activities Is Increasing

Driving on the freeway to get back and forth to the campground showed just how popular outdoor activities have become.  Michigan is always home to great summer activities and always has been.  However, even versus a few years ago, you can see a tremendous uptick.  The number of campers and boats shows that more and more have climbed out of the hole of the Great Recession.

Fireworks Don’t Work At 11:30

We’ve stayed at this campground before, but this was our first time staying for the 4th.  We were pretty excited when we found out that there was a fireworks display scheduled.  Everybody headed down to the lake shortly before dusk, which was around 10pm.  We waited, and waited and waited some more.  We’re quite a bit north and it was clear sky, so it didn’t get pitch black until past 10:30pm.  We figured they’d start then.  Nope.

It was a full hour after that before they started.  By that time, our kids had enough and were already in bed.  Our son was half asleep and enjoyed listening to them, anyway.  But, really, who in their right mind starts a fireworks display at 11:30pm?

A Bigger Gas Tank And Engine Saved A Stop

Most of our longer trips seem to be around 250 miles away from home.  With the old Buick towing, we would always have to stop for gas.  It was around a 20 gallon tank, and generally got around 10 MPG when towing.  I got a truck with a 26 gallon tank, and we averaged 12 miles per gallon, so we ended up saving a stop.  When towing, finding a gas station that’s RV friendly always adds another layer of complexity, so I was happy to avoid that part!

The Unlucky Made The Best Of It

Remember above how I said camping is more popular than ever?  This is especially true on the 4th, when just about every site in the state is booked.  We were able to snag two adjacent sites for our entire time, and they had a lake view to boot!  Others weren’t so lucky, but made the best of it.  Many people were able to get a stay at the park, but had to move sites at least once.  I saw one camper in at least three different spots.  Yikes!

Saving $80 Was Cool

We got a note a few weeks before our trip that the campground had been having sewer troubles.  They had a line break on three separate occasions.  During these, people that were camping couldn’t use the bathrooms or showers.  They had to use port-a-potties or pit toilets.  They allowed people to either cancel their reservation or offered a $10 reduction in fees to take the chance on staying.  Since we knew everything anywhere else was booked, we took the chance.  Thankfully, the bathrooms worked perfectly, so we saved $80 by taking a chance!

It Finally Got Easier With The Kids

When we started camping with our trailer, the kids were 3 and 1.  That was tough. Someone was always napping or eating or melting down and both needed pretty constant supervision.  The kids have grown, but even last year, neither was riding a bike without training wheels.  We always knew it’d get easier where they could be more independent, and this year it hit us that we were finally there.  Nobody needed a nap, they were flexibile with the meal times, and were able to do a lot on their own.

4th of July Trips Are Bad For My Awning

During the first year we had our trailer, the awning broke during a freak thunderstorm.  It almost happened again.  This time there was no thunder or rain, just wind.  We were sitting at the beach when it got really cloudy and dark and the wind started picking up.  In the five minute walk back, it was so bad that when we turned around, all we saw was a cloud of sand.  We ran back to the site and my in-laws and wife (who had walked back a few minutes earlier) were holding down the awning as it was bouncing around furiously.  Through the wind, we were able to get it rolled up, but it really seems that thing is cursed on these 4th of July trips!

Staying Healthy Worked….Sort Of

I wrote a couple of months ago that I knew these trips would put my fitness success at risk.  Between exercising less, eating more extravagent meals, and indulding in more alcohol, these trips had potential of derailing a lot of the success I’ve worked for.

Well, while I didn’t do great, I don’t think I did half bad.  I definitely found I was more strict at the beginning and

Image from morguefile courtesy of kzinn

less so at the end.  Still, I did pretty good on portion control and cutting back on my liquor intake throughout.  Snacking was the only area that I lost a little willpower on, but it was still better.  Plus, I ran three times during the trip.  Overall, this wasn’t perfect but it could have been a lot worse!

We Need New Meals

We’ve developed some pretty cool meals.  We have a good mix of campfire, grill, and comfort food meals.  But, many agreed that we’re starting to get a bit repetitious.  We never had a bad meal that I can remember, but very little of the dinners were exciting.  It’s time to shake things up, I think!

Tomato Plants Can Double In Size In A Week

We bought two little tomato seedlings at the farmers market back in May.  They grew quite a bit in the weeks before our trip.  Still, we were shocked when the doubled again in size in just the week or so that we were gone.  And it didn’t even rain!  The watering all came from our neighbors who helped us out.  Now, we have lots and lots of tomatoes on the way!

Readers, have you done anything fun so far this summer? What fun have you had or do you have planned?  Let me know 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.