Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1630
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

February 2021

A pretty good month with relatively low expenses. The last year of no travel and no socializing due to covid really shows how much these two factors impact my finances.

Since I'm actively shopping for a replacement car I decided to do some quick calculations to see how much the current car has cost to own as far as buying the car and maintaining it. I'm interested in thinking about how this car might compare to other cars, not going carless, so I'm not including fuel, insurance, taxes or registration since any car I might buy would probably be about the same for those categories. The car itself was $4400 and I have $3116.98 in parts and labor for a total of $7516.98 over the last five years. This produces a monthly cost of $125.28 just to buy the car and keep it running. I could subtract the current value of the car which is unfortunately only about $1000, for a cost of $108.62 per month.

I've done all the work on the car myself except for installing a set of tires and two alignments. I don't enjoy working on cars though so I do it only to avoid the expense and hassle of having someone else do it. If I never worked on a car again that would be great.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about it and, comparing apples to apples, if I went back in time to five years ago and bought another 9 year old car with 65,000 miles I think it would have been worth paying the 25 to 50% premium to buy a Toyota or Honda that would hopefully need less work as compared to a domestic. All cars need work but the consensus seems to be that certain Japanese models deserve their reputation for being low maintenance. I'd like to roll the dice to find out if that is true. I also think I might benefit from spending more to get something newer with lower miles too. Not having a car that always has something wrong with it, not having to work on the car all the time, and feeling like it is more trustworthy would be worth it. Also, some of these cars with a good reputation seem to do a great job of holding their value when they are well kept (example: try to find a cheap Tacoma or 4Runner).

One wrench in the works is that I also feel like I need a bigger vehicle. Minivans and small SUVs command a premium over cars and don't have quite the same low maintenance reputation as a comparable Camry/Corolla/Prius/etc. I'm not sure how much to hold the line on the getting just the right car for me versus compromising more. The car I have now was supposed to be a stopgap and I've now had it for five years*. I do know that I can't wait forever for the perfect unicorn car at a rock bottom price to come along as the current car has an unrepairable issue that has been holding steady but could take a turn for the worse at any moment. Having an unreliable car is also messing up my lifestyle since I don't trust it to drive long distances any more.

*Doing something as a stopgap and then living with it for many years is an ongoing problem with my life. Sometimes I wish I had someone looking from the outside in asking "how are you still in this position - wasn't that supposed to be temporary?" at regular intervals or keeping me from getting into these stopgap positions in the first place when it makes sense.

Expenses
Alcohol & Bars 45.85 (timing worked out that I bought beer twice this month)
Auto & Transport 27.15 (working on the car)
Auto Insurance 28.87
Bills & Utilities 115.11
Business Services 33.98
Charity 15 (politics, donation to website I use)
Doctor 15
Entertainment 14.91 (streaming TV)
Gas & Fuel 32.16
Groceries 308.68 (a little high)
Gym 46.95
Home Improvement 66.67 (working on the house)
Internet 27.5
Mortgage & Rent 790.73
Office Supplies 12
Pharmacy 9.48
Restaurants 41.03
Shopping 75 (bought some necessary stuff)
Taxes 200 (property taxes)
Total -FI 1906.05

Paycheck 2664.28
Amazon 12.11
Checking 2.23
457b 1500
Total +FI 4178.62

Savings 2272.58
Savings wo 457b 772.58

% Spent 45.6%
% Saved 54.4%
SWR 5.5%
SWR with Internet Income 5.5%

Years Remaining 2.8
Years Remaining with Interest 2

If you are a giver please know your limits because the takers don't have any.
Anonymous

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Pilgrim
Posts: 27
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:53 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Pilgrim »

Hi, I'm new to your journal but am very impressed with your graphs and progress.

Here are a few random comments I had about the last several posts:

For your car, it seems to me you have done well to only have ~$100/month in car amortization costs over the last 5 years. I agree with your thought that it might make sense to purchase a very high quality car that has fewer breakdowns and higher resale value.

I've owned 12 cars in my life and have done my share of car repairs. Like you, I really don't like working on cars. I also don't like paying exorbitant fees to the shop. I also don't like owning lots of car repair tools (which I've sold and then bought back a couple times, but currently don't own).

It seems to me you're getting a lot of value out of your cars by holding on to them for years on end (in contrast to me who tends to change cars way too quick). For how little mileage you are driving, I am surprised you are having as many car problems as you mention. I think keeping them in a garage helps cars last longer.

Is there a particular model of car you're considering? You mentioned liking to have a larger vehicle. What is making you lean towards a larger one, if you don't mind me asking?

We recently purchased a Honda Fit which is working well so far. Hopefully it is dependable.

Regarding cell phones, I thought it was funny you were agonizing replacing a $200 cell phone when you had $500,000 in net worth. Of course, that's the type of attitude which has allowed you to gain that net worth. But I have co-workers that must have the newest ~$800 phones when they have very little (any?) net worth.

For smart phones, I've had good success buying models that are ~2-3 years old refurbished off eBay in the $150 range. I usually only get 1-2 years out of my phones before ruining them somehow. Usually by getting them wet or dropping them. Though phones are getting more water-resistant and drop-resistant these days. I recently had my phone drop off a hanging scaffolding I was sitting on about 20' feet up. It landed in a puddle of water on a metal floor. I was sure the phone was done-for, but it was just fine. That is my current phone, an LG G7 ThinQ which I've been very happy with.

Anyways, thank you very much for sharing your journey!

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1630
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Pilgrim wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:20 pm
Hi, I'm new to your journal but am very impressed with your graphs and progress...
Hi Pilgrim! Thanks for your comments! It's been a much longer road than I expected but I am getting somewhere.

I think the problems I've had with cars are due to buying cars that are cheaply made and have inherent flaws, to my high expectations about how much work a car should need, to buying cars right at the point where they often need maintenance items (60k means you can get a lot of car for the money but also often means the tires, brakes, and suspension are worn out if the owner hasn't done any of that work already or did tires and brakes at 30k), to not having a garage, and to super salty winter roads.

I'm all over the place as far as what cars I would buy. I'm looking for anything reliable with low miles and up to maybe $10,000, but I'm especially interested in Toyota and Honda. The Fit seems like an excellent car! The difficultly is that my current car is a bit larger than the Fit and I'm often already barely getting by for carrying various gear and materials. Most of the Toyota and Honda cars seem to be reliable with some small exceptions depending on year/model/drivetrain. I could also go with a minivan or even an SUV or truck. Even a vehicle that got bad gas mileage wouldn't really be bad since I hardly drive it, although that might become a problem on the road trips I sometimes like to do. I don't think I want any more domestics or any of the cheaper foreign cars. They're not all bad but I want to try a new approach. I like Subarus but I am wary of them due to their headgasket woes (apparently solved with the newer models), high prices, and complexity. A 4runner or Tacoma would be really cool but they are super expensive and the offroad capability is overkill for my needs. I know this isn't a very specific answer but I think that's where I'm at right now.

Your comment about worrying about spending $200 on a phone when I have $500k saved but having $500k saved because I worry about spending $200 is a good one. Making those decisions is a constant tension for me and I admire the people here that can give up things rather than just trying to get them at the lowest cost.

I've definitely known some of those guys that have to have the newest/best/most expensive stuff. It sounds like you maybe work in the trades, I've been in that industry with people making really good money but spending it all and then some. Even 100k per year sounds like a lot but it's not hard to go through it all with too much house, a new truck, a new boat, new offroad vehicles, and lots of day-to-day fun toys for entertainment and status. A person can have 90% of the fun for cheap but not if they have to have the newest and best of everything. No offense to anyone in construction, just an observation about how it is a culture that often promotes an economically unsupportable lifestyle.

SavingWithBabies
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Location: Midwest, USA

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by SavingWithBabies »

I've been really happy with my switch from European vehicles (one Volvo that died due to rear ending so was fine but only had it 3 months, then a string of nearly dead VWs that taught me good repair skills but were quite annoying) to Japanese (Toyota). I was really tempted to buy a VW Passat TDI in 6 speed manual. It was a my dream car. This was a year or two before the emissions scandal with the TDI engines. But when push came to shove, I went with a Toyota sedan. I do see Toyota (and Honda although to a lesser degree) as being fairly slow in adopted technological advancements in terms of handling however the focus on total cost of ownership and reliability are great. I too like to repair my own vehicles. I find it satisfying when finished and I don't always enjoy having to do all the work however some part of me does enjoy it enough to continue (last big job was doing the timing belt, water pump, timing belt path wear items, radiator and some hoses on a Toyota 4.7l SUV which was daunting but not too bad as I opted to buy the special tool to get the crank bolt off without any drama/tricks).

I walked a friend through doing the head gaskets on a Subaru and while it wasn't a horrible job, seeing it need that at around 100k while otherwise the vehicle was fine and seeing the pattern of their head gaskets go out... Not too excited about them. I do like them but, at least right now, not quite enough to buy one.

Tough choices... I went the next size up from the 4Runner for the towing capacity and it was also cheaper as not quite as in demand. The MPG is pretty bad with a V8 Toyota but we don't drive that much (I change the oil every year and now we're doing way less than the amount of miles that would warrant a change -- just doing it on schedule at this point). And we have our Toyota sedan if we want better MPG although the SUV has spoiled me as a taller person. We really don't need two cars but the Toyota sedan was the first and only car I bought new and I couldn't quite sell it and the wife likes it so it stays.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1630
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

SavingWithBabies wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 11:16 pm
I've been really happy...
Thanks for the vote for Toyota, your story helps to confirm my thinking. It's nice to hear from someone else who also works on cars.

Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 1630
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Just venting:
I'm trying to do my taxes with HRBlock. My taxes are a little more complicated than most but should be easy for a website to handle. I got to the very end, entered my credit card info, entered the account where I want the refund deposited, and then the jerks told me they couldn't electronically file my state taxes! There is a vague error code that so far I can't find any info on.

The HRBlock website says I need to print and mail the state taxes in! I don't have a printer and I don't want to mail them. They already sent me an email that they had charged my card so unless I want to reverse the charges or ask HRBlock for a refund I need to either figure out why the taxes can't be done electronically or I need to print and mail. It's not a huge problem but I wanted to complain somewhere. I know my life is probably easier than that of 99.9% of humanity but I swear nothing ever just works the first time.

jacob
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by jacob »

Could be any number of reasons. A plausible one is that the state return includes a form that can not be e-filed no matter what/who/where. Could also be something like mismatching W-2 data (what the state has on record vs what you're filing). E-filling is still an immature system in the US and each state has their own system. Would suggest calling the local HRB office and asking if they can help---tell them you used their software. If not, try calling a different office.

One issue is that paper returns get quarantined for a while ... which would delay a refund. But as noted, there might not be any way around that.

Green Pimble
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Green Pimble »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 11:30 am
I'm all over the place as far as what cars I would buy. I'm looking for anything reliable with low miles and up to maybe $10,000, but I'm especially interested in Toyota and Honda. The Fit seems like an excellent car! The difficultly is that my current car is a bit larger than the Fit and I'm often already barely getting by for carrying various gear and materials.
I will chime in to support the Fit. I've owned two in my life (2012 models) and think they're amazing little cars. They have been cheap to run and repair, and versatile. I even took my Fit off road on some 4WD tracks for fun and she did okay. I don't know what your current car is, but the Fit has a lot more useful room than many of my friends' larger cars, so space may not be quite as much as an issue.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

jacob wrote:
Tue Mar 16, 2021 12:29 pm
Could be any number of reasons. A plausible one is that the state return includes a form that can not be e-filed no matter what/who/where.
I think you are onto something here. I'd rather not say what extra form I have but there is a form that is not typical. If I was doing my taxes manually I would leave out the form because nothing gets entered there anyway but the software says I have to include it even if it blank due to an unusual situation I have. I think my next step may be to try entering everything in TurboTax just to see what I get while being very careful to stop at a point before they bill me.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Green Pimble wrote:
Tue Mar 16, 2021 2:42 pm
I will chime in to support the Fit.
I've seen two promising Fits on Craigslist in the last month and I regret not pursuing them. I was letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. A low mileage Fit for a good price would be better than what I am dealing with now. I especially like that they have a great reputation for reliability and are sometimes available in good shape for a low price. I could make the size work for a while and continue looking for a deal on something that is more ideal.

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Ego
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Ego »

Another vote for the Fit. We've had Fits for many years. I find that we can carry as much stuff as a small suv thanks to the well designed seating configuration.

davtheram12
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by davtheram12 »

I'm right there with everyone on the Honda Fit. I've owned mine since new (2011) and it has performed flawlessly. I've managed to convince others to get one and they've also had great experiences.

Like lost vehicles, maintenance is key. If you are a bit mechanically inclined, be sure to change all of the fluids (i.e. transmission fluid, oil, brake fluid and coolant) at their required service interval. It makes more sense to pay for fluids instead of the parts that give out because of neglect. Other service requirements are fairly simple and with the help of YouTube filling in the gaps of knowledge is easy :geek:

Campitor
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Campitor »

I have a Toyota myself - bought it new in 2006 and I still own it - it's in terrific shape and has only needed routine maintenance throughout the years. My experiences have been very positive with Toyota and I would highly recommend them. My mother has been a Honda owner for years - she's had the same Honda for over a decade and the car still runs as if new as well. I'm very impressed with it. The most major expense I've encountered with my Toyota is replacing the suspension bushings - I farmed that maintenance out to a mechanic since I had no desire to replacing bushings in the winter. The bushings will eventually start to fail - they're rubber and keep the various suspension parts from grinding against each other. The bushings lasted for 14 years.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Thanks for the further votes for Honda and Toyota and for the Fit specifically. I'm carefully watching craigslist, facebook, etc. I wish some of these other sites had the saved search function like craigslist does.

Stasher
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Stasher »

Really happy to see so many people recommending Hondas, anything with the 1.6L 4cylinder is going to be bomber and the best part is they are extremely cheap and easy to repair yourself. You stated you don't like doing the work but can make it happen. So search out a Fit, CRV or Civic in my opinion.
I went down the rabbit hole of all JRGOs youtube videos this winter as he picks up $300 vehicles and puts very little into them, they then run like new.
https://www.youtube.com/c/WatchJRGo/playlists

I will also add as mentioned above, nice graphs tracking all your ERE efforts.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Tue Mar 16, 2021 10:38 am
Just venting:
I'm trying to do my taxes...
The details are not worth getting into but I was able to get the taxes submitted. HRBlock couldn't handle the complexity but TurboTax powered through.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Stasher wrote:
Tue Mar 23, 2021 10:12 am
Really happy to see so many people recommending Hondas...
Thanks Stasher, I checked out your content in various places that you linked to in the bike touring thread. Definitely jealous of your adventures. Thanks for the compliment on the charts too.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I recently read Living in the Long Emergency (https://www.amazon.com/Living-Long-Emer ... 1948836939) and I thought I'd give my two cents since I got the idea for reading it from mentions on these forums. Sorry to say that this book didn't do much for me. The author makes the case that modern life is going to fall apart given limited resources but the part where the author meets with people who are living alternative lifestyles just wasn't that compelling. He found people with slightly odd, sometimes difficult lives as examples but didn't convince me they were living particularly resilient lives. Maybe they just didn't fit in the mold I was expecting, I don't know. A couple of later chapters felt tacked on, with content (discussion about Obama and Donald Trump) and writing style (strong parallels to Fox News comment section cut and paste rants) that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the book. I did like the chapter where he described his own homestead and how he decided what to do given the limitations he had to work with.

It felt like this book may have been released shortly after the great recession and then updated more recently. I'm not sure though as Amazon describes it as being released in 2020 with another book called The Long Emergency from the same author having been released in 2007. I searched the forums and the mentions were definitely for Living in the Long Emergency and not The Long Emergency. I'm not going to dig any deeper into it. The author could have made a lot of hay had he been able to include the coronavirus.

The book did prod me to me to continue thinking about resiliency though, both at the micro (example: prepper stuff like preparing for power outages or food shortages) and the macro levels (example: how to diversify wealth to protect against the unforeseen). One idea that came to mind was about the quote "The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." from William Gibson. Usually this quote is applied to situations where new tech is being used by early adopters but it could also be applied to the negative events as well. For example, oil won't dry up all at once. It goes away one oil well at a time, with some countries losing access to oil before others. For another example, the gig economy won't destroy every "career" job all at once. First taxi driving becomes a gig, then some other job, then another, with gigs taking over jobs more quickly in some areas than others. Anyway, this book has nothing to do with my journal and I hate to criticize but I wanted to write down my thoughts somewhere.

jacob
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by jacob »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Thu Mar 25, 2021 9:16 am
I recently read Living in the Long Emergency (https://www.amazon.com/Living-Long-Emer ... 1948836939) and I thought I'd give my two cents since I got the idea for reading it from mentions on these forums.
"The Long Emergency" is a classic in the slow-doom field. The follow-up of "Living in the Long Emergency" is more of a case-study book. Similar to the difference between e.g. YMOYL (the manual) and "Getting a Life" (case-study). In both cases, I don't think the latter make as much sense w/o the framework of the former.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Gilberto de Piento's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

jacob wrote:
Thu Mar 25, 2021 12:47 pm
"The Long Emergency" is a classic...
OK, thanks for the explanation. I will see if the library has it.

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