Why I almost bought a bus

October 20, 2014 — 1 Comment

I didn’t have a business plan, I had no idea what it takes to maintain a bus, I don’t have a commercial driver’s license, and I have no place to park a bus. There are a thousand reasons why I have no business in owning a bus. So why did I almost buy one?

It all started when we were traveling and we fell in love with the idea of running a mobile retail business after seeing the “RE: START” mall in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was intended to be a temporary mall after the terrible earthquake destroyed 80% of their downtown, but soon they realized the converted shipping containers could be permanent. We definitely saw the potential of doing the same thing in the United States.

However, the logistics always presented a problem – I’d have to buy a big truck and a crane attachment to move them around. That’s on top of the expense of converting the storage container into a suitable shop. So I kept thinking. Continue Reading…

Breaking from the Script?

September 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

The first time I saw the new Audi commercial, I knew it should be the new identity of my site. No more following the same path as everyone else… no more making bad money decisions that keep you chained to your job. Breaking from the script – I’m all in!

Oh wait, they’re telling us the way to break from the script is to buy a brand new Audi (starting at $32,500)? Come on Audi, we’re smarter than that.

The real way to break from the script is to buy a car you can afford by keeping it under 20% of your annual income. If you spend more than that, your chances of breaking from the script will decrease dramatically.

For some more fun, read the comments in the “How much car you can afford” post… it’s up over 100 and interesting to see how people agree and disagree with the rule.

Mattress Moving

August 25, 2014 — 7 Comments

I’m not sure what’s more hazardous – moving a mattress without properly tying it down or living with a journalist! Well, last week I experienced a dangerous combination of both when we went to purchase a new mattress for our guest bedroom. We were literally going less than a mile and staying under 30 mph, so I wasn’t concerned about tying the mattress down – even though we had tie-downs in the car.

A few blocks into our journey, my wife told me it looked like the mattress was lifting up. I wasn’t too concerned, but I pulled into the far right lane and slowed down a bit.  Well, apparently that wasn’t enough!

“Uh, our mattress is on the street” my wife said in a calm voice that made the improbable seem unlikely.  But oh yes, I looked back in my mirror and saw our mattress on the street with cars swerving around it!  Luckily, no one wrecked into each other or ran over it as we drove around the block to come back and get it.  The mattress made it unscathed, but my reputation may not have! Continue Reading…

Home Renovation, Part II

August 21, 2014 — 2 Comments

After three years and a total renovation to our old house in New Orleans house, there were times we said we’d never do it again. However, most of the time we realized we like doing it and felt very rewarded when it was all said and done. The financial reward also made it worthwhile as it paid for our Round the World trip!

We weren’t determined to buy a fixer upper in Dallas, but it was always a possibility. We put one offer on a house that was move in ready and two offers on houses that were pretty much full gut jobs. I cringe when I say “gut job” because Jocelyn kept calling the house we purchased one before we started renovations and I kept saying it wasn’t… but now I think she’s right!

It doesn't look too bad in pictures, but it was in need of a full cosmetic upgrade

It doesn’t look too bad in pictures, but it was in need of a full cosmetic upgrade

Some of the work was obvious – we’d have to replace the electrical, redo all of the floors, and re-texture and paint all of the walls. Technically, it wasn’t a gut job because we weren’t going down to the studs, and we weren’t going to do our kitchen yet. The house didn’t look too bad in pictures, but when walking through it was obvious that major work hadn’t been done in the last fifty years. Continue Reading…

I’ve been somewhat absent from blogging as we’re currently in the middle of a move with a simultaneous renovation.  I even have a post almost complete comparing what the house looked like before and what it looks like now.  However, we’re still in serious renovation and move in mode so the post is still in progress.

In fact, it’s so bad that we’re reverting back to our time traveling the globe!  When we turned on the gas to our house when we finally moved in last week, it smelled like the whole neighborhood was filling with gas!  The gas was turned off the last six weeks while the renovations were ongoing so we didn’t really notice.

So, now we’re stuck living in a house without gas.  It doesn’t affect our cooking too much because our kitchen is still gutted, but it does affect our hot water!  We’ve been without hot water for a few days already, and we have a few days to go.

That leaves a few options – most we used while traveling – cold showers, creative showers, or no showers at all!  Cold showers really aren’t fun so after we took a couple we knew it had to change.  It reminded us mostly of our time in Nepal when we were backpacking through the Himalayan foothills and hot water was hard to find.  No showers happened occasionally while traveling, but as we’re both working now it wasn’t a good option. Continue Reading…

Redfin Dallas Review

July 9, 2014 — 5 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 — 14 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?