Even in the days when I was making $15,000 a year, I always wanted to have a nice holiday with my family. If you feel the same way, here’s what you do. First, burn your credit card(s)… They are not the way to have fun. Taking a vacation on one, then having a bill each month as a reminder isn’t my way of celebrating the joy of life… It can lead to extended hospital stays.
Here’s what you do… If you are employed, tell your boss, or the accounting department, to withhold the MAXIMUM amount from your taxes each pay period (and see if they will take out $50 more on top). Let’s say you are married, with 2 kiddies. NO! Have your deductions set as though you are a single swinger, WITH NO DEPENDENTS. This is perfectly legal. My accountant hates it, but it’s entirely legit.
What then happens is, tax time comes, and you have massively overpaid the IRS/SSI, entitling you to a phenomenal refund, with which you can take a happy holiday without thinking you’re breaking the bank. I’ve done this for 20 years. The Bahamas, Disney, Jersey Shore — tons of great memories and no lingering debts. Some (like my CPA) say, well why not keep the money in the bank through the year, and gain interest? Here’s why not. Money I have in my possession is cash I tend to spend. Plus, I have learned how we really can live on less than we think.
Perhaps travel isn’t your thing. OK, so go buy a 78″ Plasma.
This brings to mind my CRT. I wanted HDTV, but I didn’t want to spend $3,000. So we got a Panasonic Cathode Ray Tube Widescreen HDTV. In other words, it wasn’t a flat panel… Yes, tubes are heavy, but I let a table hold my set, instead of having one of the kids do it, and the clarity, color, and performance still blows the doors off any LCD. We spent $500. on technology that studios STILL USE to edit video.
This then raises the saga of my Olympus OM-4T, one of the best 35mm cameras ever made. I wanted one, but didn’t feel like spending $1,700. So I called Olympus and got a refurbed sales demo for… $500. I used this baby for 10+ years, then, because it is a classic, sold it for $450 on Ebay when I went digital.
And of course we can’t forget my beloved Subaru SVX (look it up). The SVX was a concept car WAY ahead of its time, and when it was first released in 1992, I really wanted one. But at $32,000, it was a tad too high. So, as I always do, I waited and bought a 1992 pristine conditioned model in 2002 for $5,000. I then put another 80,000 miles on it, as my daily driver, and only let her go (she’s STILL purring along) because my mechanic said any unique parts would now have to come from Japan.
NEVER buy a new car, unless you are forced to at gunpoint. Keep in mind that the Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans and Subarus often go to 200,000 miles, without valve jobs or transmission work. Look up the various models’ repair history in Consumer Reports. Then, for example, go for a well-treated Acura with 100k on it, have it fully checked out by your own mechanic, walk away from ones that don’t make the grade, buy the one that does, and drive in style, comfort and panache for a fraction of those paying a fortune on leases they can’t really afford. In 20 years of doing this, I have NEVER needed major work on ANY of the vehicles I’ve bought. And even if I had, they’d still have been much cheaper rides than most people assume you have to have.
A friend of mine who buys new, and sells every two years, laughs at my high mileage beauties, tendering the fear that I am bound to have a major break-down. I tell him I’ll worry about this the next time I’m scuba diving off a beach in Nassau.
another well written blog! great points! sometimes a little common sense can go a long way when dealing with finances. buying “demo” items is also a good way to save $ and still get new technology (i bought my car this way). buying items just out of season is also a great way to save (for example, buying skis in may or swimsuits in october)