Five Money Updates – July 2017

How’s everything going in the money world?  I realized that I’ve been talking more on the lifestyle side of things and not as much as money.  I guess that happens after writing for so many years!  I just don’t like repeating myself.  But we have had some money updates over the past few months.  Here’s a few things going on.

We Refinanced Our Mortgage

We were in a 15 year mortgage with a payoff date in 2026.  This let us pay off a good chunk of our balance.  However, it wasn’t leaving us a good deal of cash flow, so I thought of a refinance.  I wasn’t interested in a home equity loan because of the cash flow issue.  With rates practically the same as our original loan, we decided to move forward with a refinance.  Since we used the same company, we also got $1,000 off of our closing costs.  The process was very smooth.

We Got New Appliances

We’ve been looking at new appliances for a couple of years.  Our fridge space was too small, so we were looking at an upgrade.  We ended up pulling the trigger over Memorial Day.  Sales were really good and we ended up getting a stove and microwave as well.  Why?  So we could have matching stainless steel in our kitchen.  I guess this probably means stainless steel will officially go out of style now after all these years!

Our House Needs Painting

The exterior of our house is primarily brick and vinyl.  But the trim around the edges and soffets is wood, and it’s looking pretty bad.  A number of pieces are rotted, so we need to find someone that can do light carpentry, caulking and painting.  I’ve got two referrals and will be looking for a couple of more.  Hopefully we can get this done before fall.

We’re Going To Mexico

It’s hard to believe but we’ll be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary in September.  It’s been an amazing

Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

journey.  We started saving a couple of years ago so that we could do something special.  We never decided just what that was until we settled on a trip to Mexico!  We booked at an all inclusive resort through Costco, and will be using accumulated Southwest points to take care of our airfare.  This is the first trip out of the country together.  In fact, we both needed to get passports, which we recently did!

I Got A Raise

It was nice to get an announcement last week that I’m getting a 3% raise.  That won’t turn me into a mogul or anything, but it’s nice to keep up with inflation.  This is the largest raise I’ve received in a while, so I won’t complain one bit!

How are things in your neck of the woods?  Post your money updates in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

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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.

Lucky Pennies: How I Almost Accidentally Threw Away My Keys

Have you ever dodged a bullet?  Maybe not.  How about coming this close to doing something so ridiculously stupid that you’d kick yourself for months?  That’s what happened when I almost accidentally threw away my keys yesterday.

Too Many Changes In Routine

Getting ready and leaving for work is a pretty standard process.  I generally leave around the same time, have the same things, and can be fairly predictable.  Yesterday, there were a bunch of differences in my routine.

  • I had a loaner car. My truck was kept overnight so the dealer could complete a repair that they couldn’t get done in a day.  As such, I had my keys plus a set of keys for the loaner truck.
  • I was carrying out some recycling.  Yesterday was garbage day.  The cans were at the curb but I had a couple of things to add to the bucket for pick up.
  • I had more stuff than normal to carry.  Usually I just have my lunch to bring out.  I’d brought home my work laptop, so I was carrying that out, in addition to also adding the recycling.
  • I left a bit earlier.  I woke up early so I ended up leaving around 15 minutes earlier than normal.

When I walked out, I was confused at first why the truck wouldn’t unlock.  It turned out that I was trying to use my clicker, and not the clicker for the rental car.

Spotting My Lucky Pennies

When I pulled up to work, I pulled into my normal spot.  As I was looking out the side window, I saw a penny lying on the ground.  I figured maybe it was my lucky day.

I got out and picked it up.  It became an even luckier day when I spotted a second penny just a couple of feet away.  Double bonus!

Oh No! I Might Have Accidentally Threw Away My Keys!

When I got into work, I emptied out my pockets.  I don’t like carrying a lot of stuff in my pockets so I always put my keys and wallet in my desk drawer.  When I did that, I instantly noticed that I only had the keys to the rental truck.

Uh oh.

I checked my pockets again.  Nope.  I checked inside my lunch bag in case they’d slipped in there.  No dice.  I went back out to the truck and looked around.  I figured maybe they were in the console or on the seat.  Neither one.  I made sure they hadn’t slipped between the seat and console or onto the floor.  No.  They were nowhere to be found.

At this point, I figured maybe I’d either gone back into the house and set them down, or that they’d fallen out of my hands and were laying on the driveway.  I was pretty sure they weren’t in the house, because I didn’t remember going back in, plus I wouldn’t want to be without a housekey.  Still, I knew I’d done enough things differently that it was possible.

I called my wife, who I knew was still home and awake.  I asked her to go check for my keys downstairs.  They weren’t there.  I then asked her to go outside and take a look in the driveway.  They weren’t there either.

At this point, I started to get a little worried. Then, it hit me.

The recycling.  I told her to go look in the recycling bin.

Sure enough, they were right there sitting in the box that I’d placed on top.

Counting My Lucky Pennies

I couldn’t imagine the hassle and cost involved had I not realized where they were.  If I had accidentally threw away my keys, I would have really had a bad, bad day!  The thing was is that it was that failed attempt at unlocking the car that imprinted in my mind that I’d brought them out of the house.  Without having done that, I probably would have just assumed that I’d forgotten to grab them.

Thank goodness for those lucky pennies.  It really did turn out to be my lucky day!

Readers, have you ever almost thrown something away accidentally?  Or did you actually throw it away and not realize it in time?  Let me know your experiences in the comments below.

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The Cost Of Fame And Fortune

I woke up last Thursday to the news that many heard, that Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden, had died.  Living in the Detroit area, this was even bigger news, because he had just played a show the night before. He died in a hotel just a few blocks away from where he had performed.  It was sad news, made even sadder when it came out later that he had killed himself.  It makes me wonder the true cost of fame and fortune.

Back In The Day

After college, a few buddies decided to form a band.  This was back in the mid-1990’s so the alternative music scene was still in full swing (though waning, as a look back reveals).  They were pretty good, and managed to get quite a few gigs playing at local bars and other establishments.  I wasn’t musically gifted so I wasn’t in the band.  But, I hung around with them, helping them load and unload, and keeping track of the money side of things.

As guys that age in a band will do, they often talked what it would be like if they hit it big.  They dreamed of the big recording studios, the huge tours, the buses, the fans, and all the rest.  Talking about it was a lot of fun.

Here’s my secret:  Privately, I prayed that they would never achieve that level of success.

You read that right, I did not want my buddies to become rock stars.

Why Did I Hope Against Fame And Fortune?

So you wonder why I would not support my friends on their ‘dream’ of making it big, right?  

Honestly, the answer was simple.  I was afraid of how they would change.  Because, as much as everyone denies it, once you get famous, you change.  It’s unavoidable.  And, it’s often into a completely different person.

But it’s even worse.

Fame and fortune can bring lots of attention.  But it can also unleash demons.  Lots of them.  Bad ones.

Big success can bring lots of money.  But it can also bring lots of problems, many of which are things that most of us just aren’t prepared to handle.

The rock star lifestyle can be filled with parties, women, and fun, but it can also contain loneliness, addictions, and a loss of control.

Looking at how many musicians have died from things like drug addiction, suicide, alcoholism, or just about anything else, and it’s clear that there’s a cost.  Sometimes that cost is the musicians life.  That isn’t worth it.  It’s not worth the money to potentially get broken in a way where you can never get back together.  That’s the risk that I saw with my friends, and I didn’t want to see even the slightest possibility of this happening.

The Success They Found

My friends dreamed of success back then.  In the end, they never hit it big.  They played for a couple of years and then, as it happens most of the time, it was over.  They had a lot of fun.  There were a few arguments.  They entertained a lot of people.  It was a memorable chapter.

Still, they didn’t hit the level of success that they’d dreamed about.  But they’ve still been successful in my eyes.

I’ve seen those friends get married.  I’ve seen them find happiness with their families. They have successful and fulfilling careers.  They’ve matured as men and have become leaders, mentors, and inspirations to those around them.  Including me.

I have to hope that they look in the mirror and realize that, yes, they did find success.  Because they have.

Readers, have you ever dreamed of becoming a rock star?  Do you think that some rock stars would turn it down if they could do it all over again?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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