A Tale of the $20 Printer and Thoughts On Clown Cars

December 2013 I purchased a Canon Pixma MX922 printer from Amazon.com for $70. It served me well for the basic scanning and printing functions I threw at it. Never any issues with Drivers or the hardware not working properly. Wireless printing, easy configurability. I’ve owned several Canon products over the years with very few problemns. Last week was a different story…

My Canon All-In-One would not power on suddenly after printing something just minutes earlier. I missed a gym session due to all the time / angst involved in getting the device to work. A few of the items I tried.

1. Tried unplugging and plugging it into multiple outlets. No dice. Power cables almost never go bad so I crossed that off the list pretty quickly.

2. Attempted to do the “hard reset” which involved holding down the on button and pushing the stop button multiple times.

3. Power supply – I did a little research on the cost for one, it was $30 and pretty much a gamble. In an ideal scenario that’s all it is, a task involving unscrewing the defective one and replacing with the working module. However many folks have done this step and the device still wouldn’t work. Then I’d have to deal with the hassle of returning a PSU  back to a vendor, potentially incurring a restocking fee and paying shipping on my own.

4. Looked in Amazon at prices for a newer printer. Canon still makes the MX922 new, available for more than I payed as part of the Black Friday special. However it was $70-90, money I was not interested in spending. The MX 492 runs between $50 and $100 with average reviews. Average is fine, it’s not like I will be using this a bunch.

After weighing my options I decided to check out Facebook Marketplace. There was a lady selling the printer in Grapevine (about a 45 minute drive from where I am) for only $20. She said it was two months old and lightly used. Perfect! I make arrangements, grab money from the ATM on my lunchbreak, and head over there. Dealt with horrible traffic jams but I made it. She was nice, we exchanged money and I went on my way.

The printer works like a charm and you’d never know it was $20. I know No More Harvard Debt and Aaron Clarey both like to shop at Goodwill. I wonder if their experience is pretty similar. Maybe I wouldn’t find top name designer stuff, but something that looks nice for a fraction of what it’d cost new in a store and would look the same after the first wash? Not bad?

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My $20 used wireless printer. How Mustachian…

 

My next purchase may be a Digital SLR again. Back in the 2008-2011, I owned a Canon Digital Rebel XT with the kit lens. It literally took the best quality pictures I’ve ever seen in my life. Even 6 years later the best iPhone simply can’t compare. My father was also into photography growing up. He had some expensive high-end 35mm cameras on borrowed money, but it was fun to just go places and take some shots.

One topic I’ve been thinking a ton about is the relationship between money & happiness. There is a funny video about contentment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpVqXrvyBYM) and it’s totally true. Many of the things we buy don’t create true happiness. You just end up getting a spike of satisfaction getting something you have been craving. Sure there mey be exceptions to the rule, for folks who know the nuisances of the items they buy and have a genuine need for associated features.

The auto industry is notorious for these practices. They market these $40k+ cars with videos showing no other traffic, on freshly paved mountain roads, as the perfect accessory to your expensive $750k house, or high paying job…  You on the other hand have a reliable car that gets you from point A to point B, with little or no fanfare. Then you see a shiny new RWD Chevy Camaro or Ford Mustang on the TV, or for me an Infiniti Q50 Red Sport or Audi S5. These cars have either power, massive luxuty, a fabulous 10+ speaker studio on wheels, 400+ HP. Your materialistic friends will be in amazement when they see you go down the road in that shiny new machine and view you as highly successful.

The reality of the situation however is a bit different. With that high powered or luxury new car, come a few challenges.

1. Spending a lot mof on gas. Most of these cars aren’t great on gas. The Infiniti gets 20city/26hwy, the 2017 Camaro SS 17/27, Audi S5 18/28. Numbers have gotten a lot better, but if you drive 15000 miles a way you’re looking at $1800+ in gas. Close to $10k in 5 years.

2. More expensive maintenance. I love electronics but things tend to break more frequently than the tried and true mechanical systems that have been perfected over several decades. Plus all these sensors and computers are more likely to go bad.

3. Depreciation. The more you pay for a car the quicker it will depreciate. If a car is worth 50% of its value in 3 years your $50k car becomes worth $25k. The $30k car is worth 15k. A used car cheaper for $15k will lose a lot less value. Even if it’s $7500, that’s still a bunch of money in savings that can be used for debt, or investing.

4. Stress – I’m guilty of this too, you constantly are looking around for where to park to avoid door dings and spend extra trying to keep the car in tip top shape. Then if the car payment, living expenses and other payments are a high proportion to income, a situation emerges where one single repair becames a huge event. Can’t pay for it cash and have to put in on credit cards.

5. Less investment income. Most younger folks who buy these are not maxing out their retirement savings or doing and type of passive investing and some live paycheck to paycheck. They’re missing out on the power of compounding.

6.Sitting in traffic. MMM has written a few times about that how people sit around in these expensive sofas on wheels are just polluting the environment and the bank owns the car not them. What good is 400+ hp if Mon-Friday you are sitting in stop and go traffic most of the time. The luxury part I can kind of understand, if you are spending an hour or more each day.

At the end of the day though if you love a sporty or expensive car and can truly afford it, who cares… I’m paying mine off by 2019, possibly sooner.  I really have learned a lot from my millenial peers who are kicking butt and taking names. Also a lot from the ones who can’t stop buying fancy items that they don’t really need. Higher salaries, high expenses and extreme credit cards don’t equal winning. Savings rates dictate more if you’re going to win in the long term.

Last but not least, I am constantly reminded of the need to go out and have fun. Recent events of late really affirmed that. Feeling alone is a horrible feeling, luckily I get to see my friends later today. I have to constantly work at making new friends and cutting ties with the ones who are always down or make less than a half-hearted attempt to socialize.

One final thought is you can’t take the money with you after this life is over. Push hard for financial independence / early retirement but also don’t have major regrets along the way. The paradox of life is you don’t really know what you regret until life has already gone by. For that I’d say learn from old people. There is wisdom that comes with age.

Staying the Course – A Tale of Money & Things

When I bought my car, I pulled a Bruce Hornsby, said to myself..There are Gonna Be Some Changes made. For anyone born after 1990, here’s the video.

So some of the changes:

  • Only ate out once this week, lunch and dinner included. Went out with a friend, spent $10.82 for dinner. Feel healthier since I eat salad at least once a day and have a ton less guilt. Do need to go food shopping soon though. Savings: Lunch – $40/wk Dinner – $80/week (some weeks it’s more but being conservative)  = $480/mo combined. Still leaving room to eat out on weekends, or go out occasionally and be frugal. 
  • Using Toll Road sparingly. I use a combination of the George Bush Tollway and Dallas North Tollway to get to work in the morning. It it $1.25 each way, I typically only take it to work in the morning and take the side roads back. Due to less overall traffic I end up losing less than 5 minutes commute time. Savings = 6.25/wk $25/mo
  • Strongly considering getting rid of one of the DVRs. There are 2 of us and 3 tvs. The tv in one of my rooms is only used about once a month. My Chromecast or computer can be used to watch video on it. Savings = $8/mo
  • Spotify – It’s $10/mo and causes me to go over the 5Gb of ‘unlimited’ data usage on my phone every single month without exception. XM Radio subscription in car is good for 3 months. I could sign up online but have read horrible things about SiriusXM’s customer service. It is integrated with my car’s stereo, but not sure I’d rather stream or do FM radio..
  • Cancelled Apple Developer Membership. I’d love to be a developer, but I lack the free time to reach the level of knowledge required to become one. There are also plenty of free courses online that I can use to get familiar with the basics, then reassess. Savings = $99/yr 8.25/mo.

All in all that’s about $530 in savings. Just need to make these changes now, less deliberation, more doing. That’s the Home Depot way. Ok I swear I haven’t lost it..

Talked to my friend who bought a fancy coupe recently. I was literally blown away by what he told me. His car gets 20mpg and his drive to and back from work is 30 miles each way plus an additional 250 miles a week in personal travel. So about 100/wk in gas He pays $100/mo in tolls, car payment is $600/mo. Total overhead (insurance, gas, tolls, car note) for his car is $1600/mo, not including depreciation or maintenance. Already in 3 months he put 10k in mileage on a brand new car.  He tried to trade it in upon realizing what a huge financial mistake he made but would only get half of what it was sold for. I couldn’t offer much words of wisdom and it wasn’t the right time / place for I told you so.

Moral of the story is sometimes people have fancy things but a whole lot of stress to keep those things. I could’ve made a similar decision to get a fancy sports car that wasn’t great on gas and not so practical for carrying passengers. Also my new car purchase didn’t boost my overhead much. Insurance went up $5 for 6 months and my payment is under 10% of my net income.

Suze Orman was right: People First, Then Money, Then Things, Now You Stay Safe. People meaning yourself because at the end of the day you are your biggest supporter or biggest enemy to financial security.

Month 24 Update – $32,140.58

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So here we are…April 5, 2014. Listening to some Fantasia and Aretha Franklin tunes on my Audio-Technica headphones while bf watches Scrubs and our siamese cat sits curled up a foot away completely unphased by both the noise of my typing and the television. I feel beat down by an irregular sleeping schedule, where I passed out around 10:30PM and woke up at 4:45AM. I was going to go the ambitious route and go to the gym / catch up on some reading. Instead I wormed around in bed for an hour before falling asleep again. Then I see the sun rise, check my phone and it’s 7:22. Oh crap, I’m late for work. So I go through the usual shower / iron routine, telling my bf to walk the dog and delaying breakfast until I get to the work cafeteria.

I hit an important milestone, on Month 24 of making straight payments to Sallie Mae. This shit is neither fun nor easy. I certainly see how some people can go for ten years of payments and still not have their loans paid off. Life can certainly get in the way of your plans to become debt-free. I have had some increased anxiety as of late with them. Going to Florida next month for a wedding. Bf reimbursed me most of the none I put down for that trip. $600 and change with airfare / hotel factored in. Then today he’s like you should really go visit your parents. Sure that would be nice but with what money, I have about $350 to my name right now. I currently have I hold myself to higher standards that I can get this paid off as quickly as possible while still enjoying life. Debt to me is slavery. I can’t turn back the hands of time but I can focus on my abilities in the pleasant to create a better life.

Another friend bought us tickets to the NCAA Championship games in Dallas next week. I don’t know any of the teams really, but it should be exciting. Never went to a basketball game before. Don’t lecture me, just because I lived an hour from Madison  Square Garden doesn’t mean I went. Same with the Statue of Liberty… or the World Trade Center back in the day.

I was thinking today maybe sell the car and drive around in an absolute piece of crap car until I am debt-free. Of course maintenance is an issue there and I’d always wondered how many years I could get out of a perfectly reliably running car of which I have full knowledge of all its maintenance records and overall treatment. Then I think about the $3k I put in the audio system that would not be appreciated by a 2nd owner or by the dealer / used car sales guy making me an offer. Last but not least I thought about how people get royally screwed over when trading in a car. Do I really want to put myself through all that again for a shiny piece of equipment that gets me from point A to point B. Even if it’s a hybrid or an electric car that will cut my fuel costs by half or a 3/4. I don’t want to be on the treadmill forever. I want to lose the weight and keep it off. My freedom, my sanity is worth more than material objects.

Also listened through the whole Millionaire Next Door Audiobook and stared going through Secrets of A Millionaire Mind. My goal is to shift my mindset to thinking more in terms of opportunities that exist instead of limiting thoughts in my head to generate wealth. Over the the years I’ve encountered systems of get rich schemes that sound good on the surface but upon closer inspection have either large inconsistencies or have so many negative things written about them why would I want to go down that path. MLM comes to mind, if people are going to buy something from me I want to believe 100% in the product / service and it must genuinely fill some kind of need or want in their lives.

I don’t think I’m a greedy person. I just know where I have fallen short in the past and want to see more of a payoff for my hard work and efforts.  Right now that hasn’t happened yet and it can be frustrating. I see myself farther along than I currently am. I feel beat down, tore down but I can and will get back up and do some amazing things with my life. A positive net worth would be a good first step. Last but not least along with getting more omega-3s, I find keeping a busy schedule is a sure-fire way not to get depressed. Simply put, ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

Was about to hit post, then I looked at Haha Money’s How Rich Are You article. Plugged my number in to a calculator and combined we are in the richest 0.4% of the world’s population and our income is 42 times that of the average person. For just me it’s in the richest 6.1% of the world’s population and income more than 14x the typical person. Kinda boggles the mind how I could be richer than so many people in the world yet feel so financially broke.

If anyone is reading this in their 20s, I have one bit of advice. Well two really. Start planning early and don’t let the time pass you by. I’m not old, but the years have taken a toll on me. Losing my dad and grandmother so young, watching them struggle with health issues for years, a decade of being unable to get traction professionally, racking up student loan debt. The most recent one was a former friend going clinically crazy last month & being checked into a mental health institution for self-destructive behaviors. He is out, but after some of the threats and obsessive behavior I no longer choose to associate with him.

So I have this friend…

More like an acquaintance. A couple years younger than me, has an expensive habit. Automobiles are his addiction of choice.

  1. Dodge Magnum
  2. Nissan Altima
  3. Nissan Armada
  4. Jeep Cherokee SRT8
  5. Dodge Charger Super Bee

all within a 6 year period. I tried to get him to see how the impact of his decisions were affecting him financially but it fell on deaf ears.

He has a full-time job and also does car tinting jobs on the side. I joked with him last year that he’ll be selling his car again. He’s taken a number of financial hits just for the sake of this hobby of his. Both in terms of how the money could be applied to any consumer debt and used to purchase assets that appreciate in value. Last month he did as expected.

I need to get some financial stuff in order and make some new priorities and have decided to look heavily into a 2014 jgc limited“. I’m not sure if getting a 2014 model year vehicle with an msrp starting at 35k is true to that vision. He put 17k worth of work into it and is looking to sell the car for 38,500.

He’s laid down massive amounts of cash on the current ride:

400 New lock pick with cables and two cameras
250 afe intake
1100 mmp s2 manifold shaved and painted
70 catch can
100 New 2012 front and rear badges
400 Predator and tune from johan
350 mangaflow mid pipes
800 slp lm1 with install
800 oem vented fenders
9000 repaint with all plastics smoothed and blacked out/color matched
1000 grip bumper on the way
1400 sniper hood in my shopping cart ready to go
900 new oem (not replicas) hid headlights
100 hid fogs
200 limo tint”

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$16870 on a depreciating asset, not including the acquisition costs. Ouch!

To his credit, he is working 60 hours a week as manager for a popular retailer presumably earning more than I make now at 40-45 hours a week. Difference is much smaller once cost of living is factored in. I’m pretty much over working in a store or at a bank for a couple years. I’d do the corporate offices of a company with stores across the country, but working in the store each day is not my cup of tea. Unless they want to pay me a handsome increase in salary…

So more variables at play on the job front. Still no offer from the place I did over 5 interviews at 2 weeks ago. No update as people were on vacation. Another company my bf has been interviewing at in PA may possible want to fly me up there to interview for a separate position. My gut says PA isn’t the place to go though. Looking at lots of other states such as Colorado and NJ. As once said in the year 2000… Too soon to tell.

Need to have an intervention with my McDonalds friend with a Bachelors. One of these days… One of the challenges to making a switch when you’ve been in retail so long is companies are reluctant to hire for anything else. Get pigeon-holed into a corner and competing against more qualified candidates is damn near impossible. I still have hope though. $8-9/hr with student loans in deferment and thinking about going back to school is just getting him deeper in the hole.

For your entertainment here is the car being put up for sale. Low mileage and exclusive, but not a practical buy in the slightest. Last but not least thanks all who have been reading my blog and learning about my journey. Up to 6k visits so far since April 2012. Surprised there’s that level of interest to be totally honest.

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