Considering Carless

As I shared yesterday, on my “sugar mama” post, we are planning to sell our car very soon…s o, if you are in the market for a well-loved   2008 Subaru Forester with less than $25k   miles, you know where to find me 😉  

The biggest reason we are selling our car is because we don’t use it enough to justify the expense…when we bought our car we were using it on a daily basis, our commute wasn’t long, but we were using it regularly. But in the past 2 1/2 years our average use is twice a week. So each time we get in the car is costs us more than $50 a trip! Obviously this is too much.

We are also seriously considering going carless. At a minimum we will do a one month challenge, but if we can at all manage, we’ll stay carless until the fall. We have plenty of other options for getting around that are much cheaper.

Instead of driving, we’ll ride the bus/max or bicycle together. When we decide we do want to use a car for an excursion, we’ll rent a Zipcar. Within a 10 minute walk we have several vehicle options, including a few mini-vans. We also anticipate that we’ll rent a car for camping trips during the summer, but we typically plan these out far in advance and the extra cost will still be less than a car payment. For the occasional festivity, we’ll plan on taking a cab, which will be make the designated driver choice pretty easy. 

So, yes, this is a big experiment, and maybe we’ll fail miserably and decide that we need a car to get around as a family…but I figure now is the best time to try it out…

Is your family carless? 
Could you manage without a car?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Sugar Mama Scenario

My latest finance endeavor has been to create a budget scenario for becoming the “sugar mama” for our household.  Hubby is facing a potential lay off , and we are preparing ourselves for the potential of surviving on a single salary . Apparently we’re not alone, and the recession has created a rise in sugar mamas.

Truth be told, Hubby has always wanted to start his own business, so this could end up being a financial opportunity in the long run.  But in the near term, it means deeply assessing our expenses and separating the fixed/unfixed/discretionary/non-discretionary spending. 

From my initial scenario, my salary could just barely cover our monthly spending. There are two significant catches though:

First, it covers no child care costs. I’ve talked about child care costs being equivalent to a second mortgage, and since our mortgage has gone down our monthly child care tab is now more than our mortgage Our child care expenses will be going down significantly in the fall when  Big Guy will start Kindergarten…down to $335 per month since Oregon doesn’t fund full day Kindergarten! 

Second , we’d have to   sell our car …more on that tomorrow.  

Personally, I’m more concerned about the family impact of having no child care more than selling our car. It’s not that I don’t trust Hubby to be a wonderful Daddy 24/7…it’s really that there would be very little time for him to focus on starting the business that he’s anxious to get started. Any stay-at-home parent can attest to the challenge of accomplishing much beyond the rigors of childrearing. There other factor is that I think Girly really benefits from socializing in her classroom, and it would be a big adjustment for her. Although, in reality it would be a big adjustment for all of us.  

We tease that I was the sugar mama when Hubby and I first met, since I was making more than him at my part-time job. I paid for a trip to Utah for spring break, and the nick name stuck for a while. But becoming the primary bread winner is a whole different situation, and even though I know several moms in this situation, I’m still playing out the various scenarios in my head…surely more update to come…

Are you a “sugar mama” for your household?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Investing in Women

I try to keep videos I share short, as knowing your time is precious. But today I hope that you’ll take the time to watch this moving TED talk on why we need to invest in women to solve the world’s greatest injustices. It’s heart wrenching and you may tear up, but it will be worth the inspiration.

This video was shared by Kiva, and a partner organization that just launched called Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. 

Do you have a daughter? 
Do you expect that she’ll have the opportunity to get an education?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Priceline Bidding

So I’m a bit more of a novice when it comes to priceline , but I know that my savvy traveling sister is a fan of the site. If you wonder if it is too good to be true, you aren’t alone. There are great deals to be had, but there are good tips and guidelines that my sister has been kind enough to share.   I’ll be using these tips to get a rental car for Denmark, and report back on how the experience goes.

Here are a few tips for getting good deals on priceline:

  • If you don’t know anything about priceline, the basics are that you give the price you’d like to pay for travel (car rental, hotels, flights, etc), and then if someone takes your bid, you pay that price. If you bid too low, you have to make some adjustment to your bid or wait 24hrs.  
  • Start in advance if possible. Priceline makes you change your bid or wait, but if you bid early this works to your advantage. Last minute deals are also there, but easier if you are flexible.
  • Know the market. Depending on what it is you are looking for, know what price you’d like to be paying.  Look to see what it would cost you outright, so you know if you are getting a deal that is worth it.
  • Make sure to go to the Name Your Own Price section, otherwise you can be suckered into their standard offers.
  • Car rentals are the no brainer, since one brand is comparable to others. I’ve gotten as low as $14/day on week long rentals, and $50 for a weekend trip.  This depends all on where you are traveling.
  • Hotels are a bit trickier. This is done by location and rating level. Depending on the city and how they break out the zones, this can work for or against you. For instance in say the Dupont Circle area of DC, it would be a safe bet to bid on a three or four star hotel and know you would come up with something fine, since you can look at the list and make sure there aren’t any sketchy options. However in Portland, Oregon they include the whole city in one zone. Bidding on a three stars wouldn’t be certain to get a sweet spot in downtown. Whereas bidding on a four star hotel it was guaranteed to be one of three hotels. We were able to get one of the best hotels in Portland, the Benson, for $100 and then we were upgraded for our honeymoon. My vote is to go for a better hotel and bid lower.
  • Flights, I haven’t tried these. My vote would be that it isn’t worth it unless you have the flexibility.
  • Bid Lower. The site always tells you, geez, you’ve bid really low, you’d be much more likely to get it if you bid X amount.  Take this into consideration, but don’t fall for this.  For example, they will tell you that $22 a day is reasonable for a car rental, when in reality you can end up getting it for $16 a day.  Find a happy balance.

Do you have tips for Priceline?  Have you gotten any good deals?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.