Why I almost bought a bus

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.

Top 8 Taxi Scams Around the World

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)

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.

And Our Next Car is…

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.

You’ll Never be the Person You Wish to be

That’s right, you’ll never be the person you wish to be – I’ll bet you money on it.  It may sound a little mean at first, but it’s only reality, right?

In Self Reliance, Emerson wrote, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood shed with them.”

We give up, we settle, and we change.  When I was young, my ambitions were to become President of the United States or at least procure another formidable political position.  As a teenager, my focus went towards the Air Force Academy and flying  jets.  After changing my mind and by not pursuing a path to the Academy, I decided I’d go into the corporate world and someday become a big CEO.

Have I disassembled my bridge to the moon so I could start building my wood shed?  Possibly.  Have I given up the dreams of my youth in pursuit of a more realistic living?  Maybe.  Have I changed since I was a kid?  Definitely.

Don’t keep $250,000 Cash At Your House

Just in case you needed a reason not to keep $250,000 cash at your house, look at what happened to DeSean Jackson.  What a terrible thing to happen to anyone, but it seems dangerous to keep that much cash around! A few days after the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver said he wanted to renegotiate his contract, Jackson’s…