Redfin Dallas Review

July 9, 2014 — 3 Comments

Redfin Dallas Review

When we started our home search in Dallas, we were faced with the customary option of determining who’s going to make a lot of money off of our purchase. Seriously, 3% of our purchase price (THOUSANDS of dollars) to meet us at 10 houses and work the contract of a final purchase??  Realtors work hard, and I wouldn’t want their job because of the constant availability required, but that’s a lot money.

If only I could get a cut of that cash pile… enter Redfin!  My brother in law told us about Redfin because they were looking for a house in Denver and the whole “getting paid to a buy a house” part appealed to them as well.  After he mentioned it, we decided to give it a try and see if we could get a nice check from them after purchase.

What is Redfin?

They have it summed up pretty nicely on their website:

“Redfin Agents are full-service agents who get to know you over coffee and on home tours, with one big difference: We’re paid to be on your side.”

I don’t think we ever got a cup of coffee, but we did get a full service realtor. Redfin is different than traditional realtors and most realtors seriously dislike them as they’re a complete game changer in the real estate market. They’ve made buying a house a very transactional process and have become very efficient at it.

They’re not in every city, but they’re growing quickly and will be in every city before they’re through. If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan. However, Redin may not be for everyone - here are some quick thoughts that should help you decide if you should use Redfin: Continue Reading…

We bought a house!

June 2, 2014 — 6 Comments

As I mentioned after we bought a new(er) car a while back, we’re now fully engrained back in the domesticated life where concerns aren’t where you’ll rest your head for the night, but instead how bad traffic will be on the way to work.  Now the real test, could we stay within the 2X income for buying a house?

The 2x income rule basically says when you buy a house, your total loan shouldn’t be more than two times your gross annual salary. It’s not necessarily based on the price of the house because you can subtract the down payment.

That being said, we managed to stay within the 2x income rule!

We were at a high risk of going over it as we we’re finalizing which city we’d move to. After we got back from traveling and I started working, I got a promotion and part of the deal was I had to move to either Houston, Dallas, or Austin. We quickly ruled out Houston as we don’t have many friends there and it’s farther from our families in Oklahoma. That left Austin and Dallas. Continue Reading…

After nine months of traveling around the world, we experienced our fare share of taxi scams; based on what we experienced and from talking to friends, here are the top 8 taxi scams around the world:

1.  Manipulated Meter (Ho Chi Minh City)

Top 8 taxi scams around the world

Cars zooming by onlookers in Hanoi, Vietnam

As our taxi driver picked us up from the bus station in Ho Chi Minh City, he was well aware our bus ride from Cambodia probably meant we were new to Vietnam.  As he put our stuff in the trunk, we insisted he use the meter to which he agreed.

As we took off to the hotel, we knew it was only 3-5km away based on our earlier research.  However, I didn’t research how much it should cost!  As the drive went on, we both noticed the meter moving sporadically.  The 20,000 Dong starting rate seemed ok (that was only $1 US), but we noticed it jumping up in large increments.  Every time we looked away, it seemed like the meter would jump even higher.  As he pulled up to our hotel, he stayed a block away to make sure the hotel wouldn’t bust him.  Oh yes, he took us hard.  What should’ve cost us around 80,000 Dong ended up at 500,000 Dong ($25 USD)!!

How to avoid this taxi scam:  Make sure you know approximate taxi amounts for your impending ride by Googling your trip or trying an online site like Taxi Fare Finder.  Next, keep an eye on the meter as some drivers actually have a button or controller they can use to jump the price when you look away!  If the price jumps too sporadically, you might need to take action by telling the driver to stop in a safe spot and paying the amount you researched earlier.

2.  Driving around in circles (Las Vegas)

This one is one of the easier rip-offs for drivers to pull with tourists who are new to a town.  They’ll often take the long way to your destination to rack up higher fees and hope you won’t notice. Continue Reading…

Thanks to Kayla for her great infographic on people and their cars!  I think the scariest stat is that people will spend on average five full years in their car!  I think our number is higher because we lived in a camper van for two months in New Zealand and Australia, but at least we weren’t sitting in traffic!

People and Their Cars Infographic

This graphic was created by CJ Pony Parts

 

Is this guy too cheap?

April 30, 2014 — 13 Comments

I can always count on my post “How much car can you afford” to post to pull in some good comments.  Check out one I got a few days ago:

Sigh. My multimillionaire dad drives a 1999 Honda Accord with the paint peeling off. It drives my mom crazy.

All I could think about when I read this was “first world problems”!!  Wow, how upset this daughter is that her dad drives an old, beat up car!  She even gave it a “Sigh” at the beginning of the comment!  She says it drives her mom crazy, but obviously drives her crazy as well.

So this begs the question, is this guy too cheap?  He’s a multi-millionaire and is driving around in a beat up 1999 Honda Accord with the paint peeling off.  I’m sure he bought the car with cash (maybe even used) and has held on to it since.  I’d also guess that he didn’t grow up with much money and is determined to never have that problem again.  What do you think?

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Now the real question – why am I promoting someone else’s giveaway?!  Well, there’s much more to it than me being a nice guy, I’m actually starting to explore additional ways to make money.  That’s right, I’ve now taken on some weekend work by helping a friend rebuild their website and developing a retail strategy.

Continue Reading…

I got my haircut on Sunday as my hairdo was starting to get a bit unkempt, and also because gray hairs are more easily seen with longer hair.  It was a haircut just as I’ve had the last couple of years, and even with the same person, but this time she decided to cut off a little more than just my hair.

That’s right, my stylist nearly Mike Tysoned me – you know, the same Mike Tyson who bit a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear?!  Ok, so it wasn’t so bad that an equivalent bite would require a “spit” to clear the mouth of said flesh, but it was enough to make me squeamish every time the scissors approached my ears again.

Continue Reading…

And Our Next Car is…

March 17, 2014 — 9 Comments

We bought a car!  If you read my last post, you knew our requirements were a car with good gas mileage that’s big enough for our dog, and that can handle snow.

My wife researched for weeks, so we had our choices narrowed down to a few different CUV’s and SUV’s.  The highest car on the list was the Subaru Outback because it hits up to 30 mpg on the highway and has all wheel drive, but we were also considering other midsize SUV’s.  After we found a couple of good options in Oklahoma City, we decided to go up on Saturday to check them out.

We started by visiting a Subaru dealership where we previously found a used Outback with 49k miles.  After we parked, a timid young guy approached us – definitely not taking the “salesman” approach as he talked under his breath and didn’t seem to know much about the car.  After telling us there was another couple already looking at the 2010 Outback, we agree to take a new Outback for a drive.

I know what you’re thinking – he talked us into buying a new car and we financed it!  Not quite; when we learned our salesman was on his third day of car sales, my doubts turned from him to the car.  It just didn’t have the driving feeling that I was used to, and I learned later it’s probably due to the Outback’s transmission. Continue Reading…

Time to Test Ourselves!

March 10, 2014 — 10 Comments

Now that we’re getting back into the swing of things with jobs and not vacationing nine months a year (poor us), it’s time to really test ourselves against the money rules I always push.  Primarily, how much car can you afford and how much house you can afford.

That’s right, we’re about to experience two major “reintegration” expenses as we buy a second car and eventually buy our next house.  Before we left for the trip, we sold my car so we only have my wife’s Toyota 4Runner which now has 170,000 miles on it.  We also sold our house in New Orleans, and we’re currently posting up at a relative’s old house in a small town in Oklahoma.  As much as we actually enjoy the simple life, we’re quickly getting pushed back into the real world as my recent promotion requires us to move to Austin or Dallas.

Our Next Car Purchase

Time to test ourselves

This is what happens when you buy a Subaru, you pick up hitch hiking dogs…

We have some basic requirements for our next car based on the things we like to do.  Basically, we want a great road tripping car with good gas mileage.  It needs to be big enough for our large dog to ride around with us (Lucy), and we want an all wheel drive to handle Colorado winters (for visiting and someday living there).

If you knew that my wife’s from Boulder, you can probably guess what car she wants… just think about it, what’s the state car of Colorado… that hippies drive (no offense, Susan)… and that you always see dogs in… Oh yes, she wants a Subaru Outback!  I fought it for a long time because I considered driving around in a station wagon as “giving up on life”, but I think she has actually convinced me that it’s the right direction.

You know, they look pretty cool now, they have great gas mileage (21 city, 29 highway), and they’re perfect for pets.  That’s right, I’m justifying it now because she’ll win in the end. Continue Reading…

His tenure at his company was approaching 35 years, and a well funded retirement and pension were just around the corner.  He sacrificed for the company, and they paid him for it.  It wasn’t just him who enjoyed this relationship, his wife also worked for the same company for 25 years and was looking forward to her pension as retirement was just around the corner.

Outsourced

It’s all fun and games (or a tv show) until your job is outsourced!

However, this match made in heaven was about to end abruptly.  It all started when my former employer was brought in to the company to help implement some systematic improvements to make their warehouses better (consulting lingo).  As a consulting firm usually does, they continued finding work for the company while looking for areas to expand their presence and increase sales.

They soon found the answer:  outsource the IT department to my firm; who, in turn would decrease costs by outsourcing the jobs to India.  It’s a common model many companies have used the last decade.

Bob was a Director in the IT department.  Now that the entire department was outsourced to my firm, his employer changed and so did the benefits he would receive during retirement.  That’s right, he and his wife would no longer get the pensions they were ready to start collecting on because now they worked for a new company.

Continue Reading…