And two more thoughts on this:

(guess the caffeine is doing its job this morning)

– For the repairs, see if there’s a vo-tech school somewhere in your area, that would be willing to take on the task of fixing the transmission for less than the dealer wants to fix it. Maybe yes, maybe no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

– I seem to recall you’re fairly active in your church. Put out the word at church (and any other social groups you’re active with) that you have this SUV which you need to get rid of, or even swap straight across, for something that works better for you. Be up front about its issues, so folks know exactly what they’re getting into, but again it never hurts to ask. Many folks don’t want to buy/sell cars from strangers. But when it’s a social group like a church or special interest group, or even at work, folks know they can’t dump a clunker on someone and get away with it. Use that to hook up with someone who has a decent vehicle, or can give you decent money for yours, with everyone motivated to be honest and above-board. Our church has a pretty good track record of informal trades and buy/sell arrangements like that which usually work out pretty well. If nothing else, a congregation or social group is a great way to get the word out that you have A and you’d rather have B. Turn that information loose on the world and see where it goes.

Hope you find some arrangement that lands you exactly what you want, and best of all helps someone else get exactly what they want too.

One more thought on this

I think you mentioned that the dealership you’d gotten the SUV from, would take it back but only with certain conditions. Even if that dealership was where you got the SUV, there’s no reason you can’t “shop around” with other dealerships (for that brand and/or other brands) and see if you can get a better deal at another dealership. Lots of reasons why folks would switch dealerships, and nothing forces you to go back to the one you worked with originally. Walk in, present the situation/offer that Dealership #1 has given you, tell Dealer #2 (and #3 and #4 and so on) what you want instead, and let them compete against each other to give you what YOU want. Remember, they only get paid if they give you what you want, so they’re motivated to come up with a better deal than “the other guys”. May still not be ideal, but there’s nothing as satisfying as watching the car dealerships start competing with each other to earn your business. No need for you to feel like you have to take whatever they’re willing to give you. Work that competitive aspect and turn things around more to your liking. BE THE CHEETAH.

It’s not leased, so that’s a good thing

The problem we have is that we owe only slightly less than it’s worth ($5k owe vs. $6k value) and that’s before the transmission issues.

We found a Toyota dealership which was willing to work with us if we bought “new”…. but like I said to Shay, I’m really struggling with the idea of adding on more (ok, longer time frame) debt.

In theory, we would have the Honda Pilot paid off in a year. The idea that we could have debt for another 5 years or at least 3 is painful.

We have had SO MANY car issues in the past 4 months, that I am really loathe to buy something other than from a reputable dealer (i.e., not a beater car.) At this point, I would have been money ahead to rent a car from Enterprise or somewhere on a weekly basis. Which is actually also an option if we have to park the Honda because we can’t get a financing option that works for us.

I suspect there are some other options here

Is this vehicle on a lease, or do you have the option to sell it as a private party? I know it’s got mechanical issues, but there are folks out there who can absorb those costs easier than you can. Perhaps offering it for sale as-is, at least for enough to cover the loan but otherwise offering a good deal, could get you the money to get out of it without shelling out more. And that could give you the $$ you need to go get a beater replacement. Of course if it’s a lease vehicle, I don’t think you’ll have those options. So that piece of info would be helpful to come up with any other alternatives.

We have a separate electronic checking account for fuel

That is all that account is used for. Each pay day I put the allotted amount in the account and that way dh can use the pay at the pump option he prefers while staying on budget. No worrying about change, now worrying about “accidentally coming up short. He checks the balance prior to purchasing fuel and only buys what is still under budget. This system works well for us

I have an CapitalOne360 account with a debit card

My gas allotment goes on that card. The problem is that even if that account runs out of money, I can’t NOT get gas when needed. So I end up using my regular debit card if it’s a ‘lean’ month. I’m thinking maybe I should up the gas account by $100 per month. That way, I’ll have some extra for those occasional months.

Someone tried to scam our business 2 weeks ago

with some of the same similarities. Disabled, cancer patient, mostly deaf person wanting private martial arts lessons for his kids. Gave the ages, gender and that this would be for 5 months. Said a private driver would be bringing the kids. He wouldn’t answer any of the questions that my dh was asking-this was all done by email.

We don’t invoice anyone unless we have met them in person and forms are filled out. He kept pushing the issue to just charge the cc and then he wanted us to over charge the card so we could pay the driver. Don’t think so. again it was stated nothing would be done until they physically came to the building. Haven’t heard from him since.

We did let the local sheriff’s office know. we think he tried it at another karate school.

I am alternating between disappointed and angry

There is a babysitting scam going around through (and not the first time, you’d think they would be more pro-active about getting this person off their site.)

The person claims to be a recent, hard of hearing, widow due to a car accident, with a sole surviving son from that accident who is now in a wheelchair, moving to your area in a few weeks. The place she is ‘moving to’ is usually a very large, internet advertised apartment complex.

Once “she” confirms you are interested (mine was weekends, 7 hours per), she offers to send you a check to “book you” in advance. If you decline to be paid in advance (I did) then “she” asks if it is okay to send you a check for a wheelchair (in the $2500 range) that she needs to have sent COD to your house, oh, and she’ll include your first week’s pay in that check, so you can just keep that cash and pay for the wheelchair when it shows up.

That’s when alarm bells started going off. So I told her I wasn’t comfortable with that, and that I’d like to Skype an interview. I imagine I will never hear from “her” again.

What’s ironic, is my daughter is a Sign Language interpreter. The english grammar and cadence was “just a bit off” in the emails. A person born deaf or very hard of hearing who had grown up in Sign Language would have those grammar and cadence issues.

I’m mad they are posing as members of the Deaf Community, the Handicapped community and violating our trust as caregivers with their false sob story.

Not sure what will happen in the future because a kid is looking to move out

We did the car vs motorcycle debate some years ago. For us, it made sense for the motorcycle–at that time. Now, it is used, but not as often because of the change of career. Because we have 5 vehicles–6 drivers, we can juggle schedules to accommodate an occasional “need to go to the shop” fix. I do have neighbors that will allow me to use their cars/trucks if necessary.

It is a relief

We really debated about getting a motorcycle after we left Toyota. We figured (rightly) that a bank/finance company isn’t going to squeak about an existing car loan and a motorcycle loan (we were putting this all on DH’s name only). It would have been even cheaper both from a payment- and a dollar- amount, but we talked it over with my DS18 (he happened to be with us) and decided, yes, it would be great gas mileage and payment wise, but what happens if our sole remaining car (the 4Runner) has a problem? Then we are in deep trouble, because my steady child care job depends on me having a working car.

Whereas if we got the Kia, it gets decent enough gas mileage that even if the 4Runner breaks down and we are back to 1 car, I can get up at the crack of dawn, run him to work, do my child care gig, run back and pick him up from work….

It WAS pretty funny we got it down to 0/289. Because I heard for about 3 hours how that was NEVER going to happen, etc etc.

I’d say any decision made after careful deliberations of the facts

the preferences and the options, was probably a pretty darned good decision. I was surprised to see that you could get a car with 16,000 miles on it such that the payment AND the fuel would be less than the Pilot. Maybe not an ideal setup, but it was an improvement in your overall day-by-day budget from the sounds of it. I had to laugh though when you described how you went from 0 down and $280 a month, through all sorts of other options that THEY wanted, until you arrived back at: 0 down and $289 a month. I’d say that’s a win! Congrats on what is probably a huge relief!

Sorry, couldn’t resist the play on theme :)

So after a week of thinking about and weighing all our options since we still didn’t know what was going to happen with the Honda Pilot, we decided if we could find a solid reasonably new car which got great gas mileage, AND we could get it for 0 down and about $280 a month, we would buy a ‘new to us’ car.

Yes, it goes against the DR grain of getting in debt (which I really had to struggle with) but I decided we couldn’t afford to be without a reliable car, couldn’t afford to “rent” one ($750 a month), and at worse case, couldn’t afford to buy something paying cash for it and just be buying someone else’s problems.

We went back to Toyota. In theory we could get a Prius C with no money down and payments not too high (seriously, I actually heard the DR tape in my head about how people don’t think about if they can afford the whole thing they just think about affording the payment!). We ran into a problem because: TA-DA! We already have a car loan !! Even though we only owe about $4900 on it, they still wouldn’t approve a “second” car loan.

We went next door back to Kia, who is frankly, buying customers. We found a good used car which only had 16,000 miles on it and is supposed to get 25-35 miles per gallon. They asked what it would take to make a deal: I said 0 down and $280 a month.

After much hemming and hawing (1500 down, 386/month; 2000 down, 356/month, 3000 down 326/month), we finally arrived at 0 down, 289 a month. We felt good about that number because EVEN IF I have to park the Honda for a year until it is paid off if it turns out Geico won’t pay to have it fixed, the Kia payment+gas is still less than what I was spending in gas in the Honda Pilot each month. So in my mind, the cost is just like driving the Honda Pilot to and from work.

We also bought a bumper to bumper 6 year warranty for $1500.

It turns out this was probably a good move, and one made from strength of “as far as we know, we don’t HAVE TO do anything” versus weakness. I just got a call from the transmission guy. There are parts of the vehicle which were a direct result of the accident, and there are parts which happened worse because of the accident but were already on their way. So if we’re lucky, GEICO will agree to pick up 85%, but we’ll still have to come up with about $1500 to fix it.

If they would just pay off what we owe on the Honda Pilot, I’d be ok with them just totaling it out.

Nov 2015 – that’s the goal

We’ll still have the house payment, but even that ending is within sight. We refi’d to a 15-year mortgage back in 2003, one of the smartest things we’ve ever done. That mortgage wraps up in early 2018 without any help from us. Once we’re credit card free, we’ll want to build our savings back up at least a little because that’s lower than we’re comfy with. But then I expect we’ll start paying down the house to get that done a little earlier. I haven’t quite yet wrapped my brain around not having a house payment. But I imagine it’ll feel pretty darn good.


The insurance company is balking at getting the transmission fixed. Well of course they are, because if they had decided at the get go to fix it, they would have totaled it out, ($4k for the transmission, $3.5k for the body work) and paid off the car instead.

So we are now at a point where, depending on what happens after the tear down, we have to decide what to do with it.

1. Park it, and keep paying on it until it is paid off ($5k)

2. Trade it in, as is, they “might” give us enough to pay off the loan, but we’d have to come up with $2k or so for another payday loan online (I don’t have the $ to do that, so it’s academic.)

3. Trade in the 4Runner (paid off), and get a loan on a smaller 30-40mpg car.

Options 1 and 3 mean we are down to 1 car, period. We don’t have $4k to fix it ourselves, nor do we have $2k (option 2) to put down on another vehicle.

I was out of town on the first but dh got paychecks in the bank

I have not gotten cash yet to fund the envelopes but will get that done by tomorrow. I have been out of town so much over the last couple of weeks that my plan for today is to enjoy a day at home! Yeah! Staying home can save money like no other habit!

Today I plan on doing to some work related to my coaster business to help bring in more money, start getting ready for craft shows, etc.

Jhon, you’re funny :)

We’ve already heard from Lucy about how she saved her family a goodly amount of money per week, AND got the payment she wanted from the auto dealership. That’s gotta earn some extra credit in someone’s book.

But just in case that wasn’t enough, yes we’ve been plugging along here too. We paid off one small snowball, the annual bill with our accountant for tax prep for the house/business. That was only $50/month but this is the earliest in the year we’ve paid it off in a long time. From this point forward, that bill will be much smaller each year so we’ll probably put that amount towards other bills for the time being, then set up a sinking fund for it early next year. Better yet, we’re getting more proactive now with setting up sinking funds for other various known but irregular costs. I have individual sinking funds for two debts and one of the regular farm expenditures, and we’re about to set up two more sinking funds, one for the household propane and another for farm mechanical repairs. Small steps, but very satisfying steps.

In other news, our 2010 tax bill is now under $1500, and the biggest debt of all, my old credit card bill, just dropped below $12K. My goal is to get those two bills paid off by my 50th birthday, which is just over a year away. It’ll be a challenge to get there, but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just in the last few weeks I’ve started to think gosh, we’re really going to get there! We’re going to be debt free soon! I haven’t been without credit card debt since……….. ……… 1987. Geez. We started with $30K+ debt in autumn 2011 when we started FPU, Still blows my mind that despite all the ups and downs over the last few years, we’re already this close.

So I got a job rejection from Bank of America today

I’m not taking it personally, but it’s laughable when a person with dual degrees in Finance and Business Administration and a teaching minor in ACCOUNTING is told by a BANK that there are more qualified candidates for a Mortgage Loan Coordinator (translation: glorified receptionist who knows that an ARM is a rate not a body part.)

On the other hand, I had a job interview with Payless Shoesource yesterday that seemed to go pretty well. The only issue will be money I think. It’s like WAY THE HECK down in south Orange county…and no hope, ever, of getting up here to my neck of the woods. That’s a minimum $600-800 a month in gas in my vehicle.

Well, I bought a package from Mr.Markus website

and got a slew of his audio lessons from FPU. Since I never took the course (just read TMM), I have to say that it is a nice shot in the arm of energy to really get going on things.

It’s important to do that kind of thing from time to time. Otherwise, it is hard to stay as energized as time goes by.

Mr. Markus is a great speaker – easy to listen to. I could not wait to need to drive somewhere again so that I could listen to the next lesson.

I want to implement a few changes as soon as I have time.

Good Morning

I mystery shopped for years as supplemental income for my family. In fact I write a blog titled “See the USA the Mystery Shopping Way”. However, due to health reasons, and the tightening up of what they will and won’t pay for in mystery shopping I have pretty much quit this job.
In answer to your question lists legit mystery shops and I have shopped for many of the companies listed there. Most of which are good companies. However, many if not most will forbid you to take anyone with you on 90% of the shops. Especially a child.

The exceptions being ones that are fast food orientated and some by Corporate Research that require you to take a child clothes shopping, video game shopping etc.

Mystery shopping can be rewarding but it can also be very taxing. The main thing I can say is read the rules CLOSELY on each and every shop because things change with no warning and if you don’t follow their rules they will not pay you.

The fast food shops are generally a reimbursement type shop, meaning you pay for the fast food, then you get reimbursed up to 45 days later. Some will also pay you a small amount in addition. These and entertainment venues are about the only shops I still do and then I pick and choose which ones I want and use it for a meal and movie for our family that day.


I’ve been hacking and slashing through my budget, and all frills have been taken out. BUT, I need additional income, and was hoping that maybe Mystery Shopping might be a good supplemental income that I could still take my 8YO son along.
Does anyone do this, and which companies do you recommend? Thanks! :)