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November Fuel Costs - Electric Car - Charger is Paid For!

December 9th, 2018 at 07:35 am

Total miles driven last month on new electric/hybrid car: 1,769

A small improvement; was 2,000 miles last month.

Out of town trips:
--MH drove about 100 miles (on gas) to do some political canvassing before the election
--Bay Area for Thanksgiving (200 miles on gas)
--Bay Area for a book signing (100 miles on gas)

Probably a pretty average month for us.

I remembered to track miles on our gas vehicle this past month; we drove about 550 miles. That was pretty typical for how much I was driving the minivan. Same kind of situation where we favored the gas sipper when we had a gas guzzler, but I feel like we are favoring the electric vehicle even more. If we were driving 4 miles round trip to get groceries before, meh. Who cares if you took the van or the car? But, now all the short trips we do on electric if at all possible.

This comes up to an average of about 28,000 miles per year, total household driving. I'd say we were putting 20,000-ish miles per year on our cars, but have added 5,000 miles per year in commute miles. So I think that sounds about right. The 20,000 was "ish". We don't always do so much out of town driving.

For context, this was from my post last month:

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

Back to November...

Electricity costs: $34.23

1,302 Electric Miles Driven

418 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $34.23

{418 kWh overnight electricity usage, per electric bill. This is the easiest/best approximation of how much electricity we are using to charge the car}.

Fuel Savings: $207

1,302 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=65 gallons of fuel

65 gallons x $3.18 = $207

$207 cost of commute in old minivan
-$34 cost of commute in new electric car
-----
=$173 FUEL SAVINGS

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car.



I am just going to call it. The charger has paid for itself. Woohoo! We apparently received a $400-ish break on our DMV registration, with the car. I thought it was a mistake and had been waiting for the bill. But for now, will just call it a day and will consider the charger paid for.

Electric Driving Updates

December 1st, 2018 at 06:04 am

Last Saturday we were able to get some free charging. MH sat at the free charger while waiting for MM(15) at his volunteer shift. It covers one-way on the 21-mile drive.

We also went to the Symphony last weekend. We had planned to get "free charging" in the garage, but went a little early for dinner and there was free parking everywhere. We chose to save $4-ish and take the free parking instead. Our city (downtown area) has free parking night and weekends for the month of December? But I didn't expect it to be so completely abandoned on a Saturday night. Of course, maybe just lord knows where everyone parked, because the restaurant that we went to was jam packed.

In the middle of the month, winter started to arrive, and did a number on the car battery. I had been forewarned (belong to some online group) but ignored all the "Cold + car battery" stuff, figuring we don't have COLD here. Unfortunately below 50F degrees, you lose a lot of range. I don't know if there is much difference between that and like 0F degrees, because seems plenty of people are happy with their Volts in cold and snowy regions.

In the end, this happened around mid-month and I haven't noticed any changes to our costs, but December will be much colder and I will have a whole month of "cold weather" data to report. Most days I have been able to eke out my commute on the electricity. If I am using gas, it might be 1/10 of a gallon per day. (I think it got a little warmer, because I have not used gas all week).

This will be a morning problem. We have freezes overnight, but during the day it won't drop below 50F, generally. It probably helps to park in the sun and keep the battery on the warmer side. During summer, will do the opposite. I had always been more concerned about our hot summer weather. The heat is supposed to be worse as far as long-term battery degradation. Not much I can do about that, but will definitely be sure to park in the shade during summer.

The garage seems to be keeping the car about 30F degrees warmer than the outside, so maybe that helps with the cold and battery range.

In other news, GM is discontinuing the Volt as of next year. In the online group everyone was saying prices would drop at that point. I don't see why it would make such a big difference, but in the end, I guess this is driving people to not want to keep their cars. I don't *get* it, but whatever. We have talked seriously about buying a second Volt in about a year, before all this. Honestly, I don't expect prices to change much between now and then. But if they do, we will certainly take advantage.

{I think probably they mean more new prices, while I am only looking at used prices}.

It is sad. Americans love their gas guzzlers so much. I haven't seen any other cars quite like this. I was never thrilled with going all-in on electricity. Yes, it's cheap now, but you never know how that might change. I guess for the long run it might be we keep a gas car and an electric car? But I really like this whole "bets of both worlds" thing and haven't seen anything else quite like it.

I guess I should back up and say one reason we are considering buying the second Volt is we are going to run this one into the ground crazy fast, at this rate. Would rather spread over two cars that we can keep for 15 years each. (This car won't last 15 years if we do 90% of our driving on the one car). & MH has a new-ish car, so it would be more of a lateral(ish) trade. We just left it that we need to give it a year before we put all our eggs in one basket. Which is something we would probably never do otherwise, but the car is that amazing. & this also hinges on me getting like a really nice bonus next Christmas. I said it's lateral(ish) because we still would need to cough up some decent cash.

Costs and updates:

**I need to do some homework on the carpool stickers. Still have not had one reason to use them in the two + months we have had the car. I had heard a rumor if I renewed after this year that I could get 4-years of carpool stickers (for solo driver). I can't find anything about that and don't know if that is just a presumption. I don't want to lose out altogether. It would be three years if I apply now. I just have some homework to do. You never know when you might end up in a traffic jam or have a job change, etc., so I just want to maximize carpool benefits. Being prepared, as I like to do.

**The other thing I can't find *anywhere* is what on earth our car registration fees are supposed to be. ??? We paid something like $40 when we bought the car, and when they sent us the title it said "$40 paid" on the registration and/or title. I thought surely that wasn't right and expected to get a bill at some point.

I think it would be a fair assumption that the electric cars get a crazy break on this front, but I just can't find anything verifying this. On the online group I am in, everyone says they are still paying $300 or $400 or whatever to register and renew newer/expensive cars (same model; same state). So, I am confused. Am curious what the renewal will be next year.

**Fuel costs for December:

Electricity is still at about $1 per day, or $30 for the month.

We also drove out of town three times during December, so used a fair amount of gas.

Gas fuel spending was $26. I received a $10 work reimbursement (for driving 20 miles). This puts my net gas costs at $15 for the month, or about the same as last month.

When it got cold, my first thought was that my "reimbursements to self" for quick charger and car premium might take a little longer than I planned. But looking back at October, I think in the end it will be about the same. I saved about $225 in fuel costs?

When I get final electricity costs for November, I will share the details.

December and January are our coldest months, so will see how we fare during those months.

Electric Car Updates

November 4th, 2018 at 08:27 am

MH went out of town to do some political canvassing, yesterday. He was pleased with his gas mpg:



This is the spreadsheet I have been keeping to track fuel costs. I don't know if this sheet is ideal, but it's one I just found and copied. It worked in a pinch. I can tweak it later.


You can click on it to see the details more clearly.

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

{These cars are so under-advertised. We had *no idea* we could get 50mpg on the gas side of the car. We didn't expect this to also be our out-of-town car?
We just lucked out that we found a car with so low miles to start. I really didn't think we'd be piling on the miles this quickly}.

Electricity costs: $31.65

1,516 Miles Driven

386.4 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $31.65

Fuel Savings: $226

1,516 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=76 gallons of fuel

76 gallons x $3.40 = $258

$258 cost of commute in old minivan
-$32 cost of commute in new electric car
-----
=$226 FUEL SAVINGS

NOTE: We were not spending that much on gas before because we bought the new electric vehicle at the same time I found a new job and doubled my old commute. But I do think it was somewhat critical to address our vehicle situation with the new commute. I also took a large pay cut, so the fuel savings is important.

Although my commute is HUGE compared to any frame of reference I have (I have never commuted more than 15 minutes?). I think it's a relatively small commute in the grand scheme of things. Isn't that gas savings mind boggling?? I think this is probably pretty average. It's probably pretty average that Americans drive gas guzzlers and would commute at least 20 miles each way.

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car. To be clear, we did not pay a premium because the car is electric. We paid a premium because it was a huge step up in car. We had saved $15,000 ($100 per month x 13 years) to replace the minivan. We ended up spending $22,000 + tax on this car (less sale of van), or $23,000 total cash out-of-pocket. I'd like to whittle down the extra $8,000 we paid with fuel cost savings. At this rate, we might breakeven in just 3 years. WOW! This wasn't really our intent with the car purchase. We had received a $15,000 completely unexpected cash gift that we decided to use towards buying a newer vehicle. I think it was more to the point that we felt I could buy my "dream car" with the extra money. I did not expect the fuel savings to be quite this substantial. I guess the substantial fuel savings is just icing on the cake!

$745 Cost of Fast Charger/Installation
-226 Fuel Savings October
-----
$519 Net Cost To-Date

It looks like we can get this charger "paid for" by the end of December.

NOTE: I am just ignoring gas fuel costs for simplicity. The Gas Fuel mpg comparison is 20mpg minivan versus 43mpg Volt. (I corrected my sheet after I posted it here). But the 43mpg is more in line with our other (gas) car, which is what we used to use for longer trips. So I don't know that we are seeing any fuel savings on longer trips or gas usage on the hybrid car. Will just track the smaller/electric trips, which is mostly my new commute.

Electric Car Costs Update

October 28th, 2018 at 07:15 am

I received my home gas bill and it was something like -$20 due to an energy credit. (They owe us $20). Our home is crazy energy efficient, though we have the more expensive private utility for our gas. So our bills average around $30 per month throughout the year. People all the time presume we have like $300/month heating bills in winter, if we have a larger home than they do. ??? I've never had the heart to tell anyone that is our bill for the entire YEAR. This is also one reason we would very seriously consider new construction again. We've been really spoiled by the low utility costs in this house. I'd describe it as more frugal energy efficient. Most of the energy savings was put into wrap and insulation. Not into things like solar (that cost a LOT of money).

Anyway, I saw the gas bill, so thought I'd check on our electricity usage for the month.

This was electricity usage pre-electric car:


This is electricity usage with overnight car charging (for lower electricity rates):


I was trying to figure out why our electricity was spiking so much more in the evenings on older bills, and I finally realized that was A/C. This second picture is more average electricity usage for us during the fall.

We can charge the car between midnight and 6am for cheaper electricity rates. There is a delay on the charger where you just set how many hours later you want to turn it on. Or you can set that up in your car. I think there's a way to set it up so that if the car knows it is at home it will always delay to midnight, or something like that. I suppose that is something we should figure out. But for now, I just usually set it to charge 8 hours later, when I get home around 4pm every day. Or sometimes if MH is going to run MM to gymnastics or something like that, I charge it until 5:00 and then unplug it. Is just enough charge to make a trip like that.

The summer rates are going to be INSANE during the week for 5pm-8pm, so we are just trying to get into that mindset/habit NOW. We have about 6 months to adjust. Mostly we are doing all the laundry on the weekends and making sure to charge the car at midnight.



I was really pleased to see this last summary pop up, when I logged in to electric company website today. It's going to be so easy to calculate the electric car costs.

For simplicity sake, will probably just use that '12am-6am usage' figure.

So, for this month we used 284 kWh so far, from 12am-6am. It looks like we used about 1.50 kWh per day, during those hours, before we bought the car, so gives us some kind of baseline usage. BUT we also sometimes top off a few miles on the car here and there during the day, so will just consider that to be a wash. Keeping it simple.

284 kWh x $0.0819 = $23.26

If this were the bill for the entire month, that is the number I am going to allocate every month to car fuel costs, instead of "house electricity".

Electricity Costs October 1

October 2nd, 2018 at 05:26 am

Yesterday I drove 66 electric miles. That was around 50 miles with my (new) commute and dropping off MM at school. The rest was city driving; running errands and dropping off MM at gymnastic class.

I could have done all electric regardless, but it was nice to have the fast charge in between. (If I got home from work and plugged in for a couple of hours on the slow charger, I would have barely squeaked by with enough miles for evening errands).

Total electric fuel costs October 1: $1.36
**corrected after original post**

Cost to drive gas guzzling minivan 66 miles: $11.06

Fuel Savings: $9.70
**corrected**

There is no doubt we would have pulled the trigger on replacing the minivan, regardless. Might not have necessarily done it before I started my job and didn't have to go so "new" and expensive. Didn't even have to switch to an electric car. (Our other gas car is twice as fuel efficient as the minivan was). I am guessing this is a lot of why we have talked about the replacing the gas guzzler for so many years but was never quite able to pull the trigger. We just haven't had the financial incentive to. But wow, look at that financial incentive now!

Fast Charger Installed

September 30th, 2018 at 05:13 pm

I think the fast charger arrived Tuesday night. We were able to get it installed today.





One nice thing is that it's not hard wired at all. We had to have the 240 volt outlet installed, to plug it into. But the charger itself, we can just plug it in. We can easily just unplug and take the charger with us if we move.

Total cost of charger:

$420 Charger (includes sales tax; 20% off at Costco)
+$325 Electrician/Installation
------
$745 TOTAL

Original estimate was $1,000, so I am more than happy with this. Chargers easily go for $500-$600. We also saved $50-ish because there was already some work done in our garage (by builder) for electric cars. It wasn't actually wired at all, but the hole was already cut in the wall.

I am roughly estimating fuel savings of $1,500 per year. So my hope would be to recoup the cost of the charger in just 6 months, or approximately $750 saved in 6 months.

One thing I'd look to do is buy a nice bracket/hook of some sort (& mount on wall) so the cord isn't draped over boxes on the ground. I was just thinking I didn't like that; when googling saw some pictures of some nice hooks. I will check with MH before I order anything, but might bring our total cost up $10 or $15. We can install a bracket or a hook.

The car was mostly charged already, so will see how long it takes to charge once I bring it home tomorrow. I will probably just plug it in when I get home and see how long it actually takes. After that, I need to get in the habit of setting the delay so that it charges after midnight (much cheaper electricity rates). There's just a button to push on the charger.

I can also set that up (delayed charging) in the car, but then I need to remember to set it back to "immediate charging" if we ever use a public charger. So it seems to make more sense just to get into the habit of setting the delayed charging on the home charger.

I don't see that we would ever use the slow charger again. The only exception was maybe if we could charge at our parents' homes, but they both told us pretty much, "Hell no," because of their high electricity rates. We kept hearing those charging cords get stolen out of cars and are $200-ish to replace, so we will store the slow charger inside our house where it can stay dry and clean.

It's unbelievable that is it October tomorrow! It's been like 100F degrees here. We haven't even turned off the A/C. Ugh.

Anyway, my plan for October is to start tracking (car) fuel costs in earnest.

P.S. We also did a little decluttering today. Our neighbor had told us recently that our garage was "immaculate". Ha! That is a bit of an exaggeration. He just means we can fit our cars in our garage and don't have lots of crap. But anyway, we threw away some trash today and found some stuff to freecycle. A lot of it I am just going to throw in the donation pile. If anyone wants it, great. If not, they can toss it. I've got an old skateboard, an old elmo sprinkler and a couple of water guns. & a scooter. It's all very old and junky.

Free Car Charging

September 27th, 2018 at 08:58 pm

It was crazy stupid how easy the "free car charge" was in the end. But admittedly, MH downloaded the app and set up the account. I told him just to put his login on my phone, since I was just going to be trying it out (later this week). For the long run, I should probably get my own account. Though maybe the one account is fine with the one car. If only one of us will be charging the phone at any given time.

I think the difficult part of it all is finding good information. We thought for some reason there may be 1 or 2 chargers (per the app?), but in the end there were 6 chargers that were compatible with our car. This was in the cheapie garage we just happened to be parking at last night for the film festival we went to. (We'd park there regardless). We saw some other chargers on the way out but not sure what kind they were.

So we were happy to find that there were plenty of chargers.

Literally all I had to do was wave my phone in front of the charger. That's it. Didn't have to log into the app or do anything. I guess my phone had to be "on".

You wave your phone in front of the charger and it unlocks the charger for you:


So we plugged it in and went on our way:


These were the screen shots I took of the app (you can monitor progress from your phone).

Took this screen shot once we got settled in the theater, about 30 minutes later:


Took this screenshot at the end:


I suppose we are still paying (old) summer rates, so we are paying 13 cents per kWh, at home. 14.50 kWh x $0.13 = $1.89. So the free charge saved us $1.89.

Today was the first day I didn't stop anywhere on the way to/from work. (Not entirely true because I felt so terrible this morning, with the late night and maybe feeling a bit under the weather, I stopped for a soda. & I had no idea where to stop, so I may have driven 0.50-1.0 miles out of the way). But other than that, it was a pretty typical commute day for me. I dropped off MM(15) at school at 7am and then drove 22 miles to work. I suppose I can try again next week. I am not sure why it says 49.2 miles driven today. But this was the most true capture I've gotten of my commute, so will go with this for now.

These were the car stats once I returned home:


My drive to work today was totally free! The fuel part of it, anyway. I'd say we also had enough free charge to drive home last night.

It would be more electricity efficient if I drove in more traffic (because the brakes generate more electricity). This is an open freeway drive (all freeway/reverse commute).

I have about 2 gallons of gas in the gas tank. I don't think I have anything planned the next few days and so we probably don't have to rely at all on gas before we get our fast charger (at home). Will cross my fingers. Will probably just stick with the 2 gallons until we plan to drive out of town. We really plan to never really use gas around town once we have the benefit of the fast charger. Will charge about 5 times as fast. So we will have more time to re-fuel the electricity between drives.

It will be interesting to see how October shakes out. We will have fast charger + cheap winter electricity rates ($0.08 per kWh). Not only are the winter rates much cheaper, but we also get a discount on our overnight electricity usage because we notified our utility company that we are charging an electric car.

New Car Fuel Updates

September 18th, 2018 at 09:29 am

This week is shaping up to be pretty quiet. I had a few social things I was trying to plan, but everyone is being super flakey. Working folk!

Today my plan is to nap in the morning and then will start hitting chores. I think just one or two days of that (chores) and I will start to feel a lot better. If I can feel like I am starting to move more forward than backwards...

Still figuring out new car and probably will make October 1 more of a starting point for really tracking costs.

Our electric company is in the process of shifting to different rates for peak times. We get to jump ahead to this new schedule with the electric car purchase (and will also get a discount for overnight electricity use). So of course I signed up the day we got the car.

In the end, we looked more carefully at the schedule. Winter prices are mostly going down. We will have to change our habits a little bit though and avoid 5pm - 8pm during the week. Off the top of my head, that maybe went up a cent or two (per Kwh) during winter.

Summer? Ugh. Electric rates more than doubled for 5pm-8pm. MH was just asking me if we were paying that now. Kind of told him, don't know, don't care. Have to power the car. It's just one more week until we can switch that to quick overnight charging? But he's kind of, "It's more than just the car. Laundry? Dishes?" Fair enough. So while he was asking me and I was looking something or other up on electric bill, I just decided to call. In the end, just more good luck on our part. We get to keep old/cheap summer rates through the end of this month. We switch to winter rates AND cheaper overnight rates starting when our bill closes, around October 1st.

Anyway, I put the new electricity schedule up on the fridge. Will have to be more mindful of peak times. I think that is easy enough for us to work around.

In the meantime, everything is just kind of chaos. We already drove new car 520 miles. Since Thursday 8pm. What in the heck!? We did drive 280-ish miles to/from the Bay Area. It was a 60 mile drive from the dealership. Everything else was more than usual. We probably both have mostly been driving new car. I did drive to my new work city and took MM to the animal shelter (both around 21 miles each way).

I'd say this week should be way more calm, but MH has stuff going on every night. Will see how that ends up.

Today I used 3 miles electric range to take MM to school. (It's 5 miles?) MH will be driving one round trip 6 miles, unless he gets off work early (probably) and has to go back to get kids later. He told me his free movie tonight is the movie theater in our neighborhood, so that may be another 6-ish miles. All electric for today.

Tomorrow we might be able to squeeze out all electric. We are going to the movies a little further away, but might be able to start with a full battery if we don't drain it more today.

Thursday is chaos. MH has a bit of a drive for paid medical study. I *just* got an e-mail from SF bff and I guess I never got back to her. Oops! Our plans are Thursday. She was waiting for me to reply. I will probably go visit her and then spend some time with my parents. Lots of driving. (Driving to the Bay Area twice in one week is not unusual at all for us, and where we hope to see some real fuel savings).

After Thursday, I think we might be able to keep it all electric? Through the weekend?

We have 60-ish miles of gas left in the car. I will try to remember to take note of mileage when we fill up. Dealership gave us a full tank of gas, to start.

How did weekend driving go?

Didn't get so much fuel efficiency on the long drive. MH was being such a backseat driver. Gah. It was the first time we had long enough to fully charge between trips. So we started with a full 53 mile electric range. I believe the car said 50 miles, and I wondered if we had been dumb to not see the full charge before we bought it. I kept it in electric mode during all the traffic we hit, and whenever we were on city streets. Not a lot of traffic or lights, but the range just kept going up more and more. I later read that 75 miles is pretty common/easy. I think in the end we ended up getting 57 miles, adding 7 miles for passing through a few bottlenecks on the freeway. (The braking generates more electricity).

I guess the car does easily get 50mpg (on gas) on the open freeway, but we had never particularly seen this advertised. They advertise the combined freeway/city rating of 43mpg. We did go over some hills. That was when MH was driving me nuts with his backseat driving.

I had it on gas mode on the hills (which was maybe a mistake) but it was *amazing*. It gets a little electric boost and that was actually pretty awesome. I usually drive pretty slow on the big hills, not wanting to gun the engine too much.

I think that trip ended up being closer to 42mpg on the fuel side. I think we can survive with that.



This display shows our trip stats. I finally looked up what MPGe was. Wasn't entirely sure. In the end, the way it works is that 33.7 Kwh is considered to be equivalent to one gallon of gas. So it figures the electric mpg and the fuel mpg, and combines it together (combined MPGe is on the left). This is by far *not* the most fuel efficient the car has been, but that's just how it worked out on our big trip. We did try to conserve all the electric charge for the traffic and city driving.

For reference, I believe our winter rates will be around $3 for 33.7 Kwh, or the equivalent of purchasing a gallon of gas. So the MPGe figures can be converted to fuel prices for a rough idea of what we are paying/saving. I am really going to track energy savings closely starting October 1 when it will be easier and more logical to track all of this.

Edited to add: I looked at winter (overnight) rate and it was cheaper than I remembered. $0.0819 per Kwh. That means it (will) cost us $1.12 to drive 53.2 miles, starting October 1 (winter rates). & again, we can improve on that electric mile range if we drive very efficiently and driving conditions are favorable to the electric engine. It will be interesting to see how my commute shakes out (real world MPGe). I am starting to think that we can quickly recoup the cost of installing a charger in our garage. If my "twice as long commute" only costs $1 per day. Maybe just 6 months to recoup the charger install in our garage?

Here is the beauty:

Car Updates

September 16th, 2018 at 06:55 am

I've personally never had a pristine vehicle. When I bought the minivan (1-year-new/excellent condition) it was hit the day after I bought it (hit and run, while parked). The damage was cosmetic only and so we chose to never repair it. My first car had been hit more times than I remember. Anyway, over time, I just embraced it. It's hard to feel much motivation towards something really pretty and nice (and expensive), when it's out in the world getting beat up anyway. Kind of funny now that I think about it. The van came into my life and went out with a bang. In contrast, MH's cars are never in accidents and have never had so much as a scratch.

To say I am a little nervous, is an under-statement. This vehicle replaces "my" car, even if it's all been very 50/50 since we have had kids.

In the end, when I asked for some pre-buying insurance quotes, insurance agent sent over some quotes with really low deductibles. Not sure why, because we have the largest deductible possible on everything. But in the end, it was so cheap that I decided to just go with it. I don't want to be worrying about spending another $1,000+ on a cosmetic repair if someone slams into my new car tomorrow. Was something like $150/$250 deductibles. I will just go with that for a while and then we can re-evaluate in 6-12 months.

I actually drove our older car to "new employer city" Friday to drop off my employment paperwork. Met "twin" briefly but she was slammed with her job. I had made more plans to have a very long/late lunch with her, and then kill some time before an afternoon meeting. Instead, I drove home in between. Car was making such bad noises that I took the Volt for trip #2. (Didn't really want to drive it in Friday traffic, but it ended up being okay). It's very counter-intuitive because the more city driving you do and the more you brake the more fuel efficiency you get (both gas and electric). I had enough electric charge to get there, but drove gas on the way home. I was dumbfounded that we still seem to be getting 50mpg. We really thought we would buy this car for shorter trips and then use the other one for longer trips. I am now thinking this is the car for any trip.

We have a long trip today! So, will see how that goes. It will be a good test, because we do drive out of town so much to see our family.

Oh, and that 50mpg was with, "No idea what we are doing" driving. After Friday? I had to drive MM(15) to the animal shelter yesterday (volunteer shift). Had enough electricity just to get there. I realized I should hold some electric charge for the few traffic lights between the freeway in our house (return trip). So I did do that. I guess that's the strategy at this point. I am sure we still have much to learn.

We did take out "electric car buff" friend for dinner last night, to pick his brain a bit. We knew he'd want to see it too. One of the most useful tips he told us was to only buy a gallon or two of gas at a time, unless you know you are going out of town. Otherwise the gas can get stale.

Oh, and we can save $250-ish buying a fast charger at Costco. We may do that today (with one of our parent's memberships). We are probably going to be moving quick on that (versus my initial presumption that there would be no rush). The reason is we will get much lower electric rates if we can limit charging between midnight and 6am. Also, the slow charge is supposed to be 12 hours but we are finding it is more like 20 hours (to full charge). It may be we can increase it a bit, but my dad (who has a lot of electrical knowledge) was away and unreachable. We have such a new home (modern wiring) I didn't think it would really matter, but he told me yesterday he would not increase the charging speed without consulting an electrician. It's a question we will ask tomorrow, we have one coming out for a quote. It may just be my dad is being cautious, since everyone is kind of, "It should only take 12 hours". There is a setting we didn't change in the car, for faster charging with a regular outlet, because it had a scary warning.

As to electric car buff, I think he is a lot of the reason we ended up going the "electric car" route. My visceral reaction was more definitely, "No way." But the more he talked about it, the more he swayed us. He initially had a lease for an all electric car that cost pennies. At that time it was his only car, but he had free parking at his job downtown, in turn. Which entirely paid for the lease (which was heavily subsidized with tax credits and so on). Then he also didn't have fuel expenses. He was just kind of, "You have two cars? Do you REALLY need two cars that can drive 300 miles?" Honestly and truly? No. So I think at that point in time there was some realization that an electric car would be very practical for MH's mostly 6-mile round trips, all city driving. If he could have convinced us sooner, honestly we probably could have leased for $100/month (where we live). It took me too long (years) to decide that was kind of "almost too good to be true." But by then, those deals were long gone. Other than that, I'd say we are very range picky, because we do spend so much time driving to see family/friends around 120 miles away. But I do also realize that we never in a million years would need two cars to do that. (& in the rare instance it does happen, it's not like there aren't any other options).

I think one thing I also like is this whole idea of skipping the chore of getting gas. I really try to limit how much time I spend on errands and the such. & that was also another thing that really appealed about going electric (if you can just charge mostly at home; maybe also wherever you happen to be).

Anyway, this is one reason I want to share so much of the process as we dive in. If anyone can get anything at all out of me sharing information they maybe never considered.

In other randomness, MH fount out yesterday he can play movies in the car, like on the main display. He was totally freaking out with excitement. It's actually kind of funny because I told him I just left the car on the entire time I waited for MM at the animal shelter yesterday (2 hours) and MH was completely horrified. Not sure the thought would have occurred to me otherwise, but was thought to TABS and his car-living experience. I will say that will be *so nice* during our hot summers when I can just sit in the car with the A/C. It just hit me that it's not the same as idling a regular car for two hours. Absolutely nothing like that! Best I can tell, I lost one mile of driving charge. Anyway, in the end, I think MH Will follow my lead. You can't watch the movies while the car is out of park, but point is that we sit around a lot waiting for kids. So yeah, I think MH changed his tune already on that front.

We haven't done very well finding free or very low cost places to charge the car. It will take some research. But MH found a free charger right by the animal shelter. WOW! Before I took new job, that was our "big" drive. Is about 21 miles each way, and feels crazy far away. We believe we can get free electricity one way, every trip, if I can just sit and charge at this charger for 2 hours. The vast majority of the time, I just sit in the car and wait for anyway. Is just hard to do that in the middle of summer. Then I end up running errands (for the A/C!) and usually spending more money. So I am guessing this is money saved in multiple ways. We are going to check it out next time.

I don't remember how or why this even came up, but I am probably going to get the windows tinted next week. Maybe saw some car post online or something. It sounds like it will be $150-ish to do the back windows (which is all we can do legally) at a place near my old job with all 5-star reviews. I may just go over there Friday morning and then pick up my paycheck on the way home. (It's payday and is when I expect to get my final check). This car would look so nice with tinted windows, but is also would be very practical in our very hot summers. I think MH thinks I have lost my mind, but he is sensitive to the sun and I think that he will thank me when all is said and done. I just think it would be a really nice and affordable finishing touch.

Oh, and I may have found a $500 rebate for car purchase. I added that to my list of things to do when we get the plates and registration.

I will definitely be tracking and blogging about actual fuel/electricity costs. The bar to beat is set pretty low at this point because we replaced a gas guzzling minivan. The goal is to lower our fuel costs (gas & electricity) with the doubling of my work commute.

New Car! Part II

September 14th, 2018 at 07:11 am

We drove about 60 miles to a dealership to look at my pearly white "dream car". In the end, it was a little scraped up and just wasn't the "one".

But... there had been a couple of cars in Napa (near where we were). At this point the blue was looking better and better, and we started talking about having a nice dinner in Napa. I was relaxing and starting to feel much better. I just needed a nice "date" with my hubby.

On the way to the Napa dealership, I was trying to refresh my memory how long these cars had been sitting, for negotiations. & checking the carfax, etc. In the end, I didn't really remember any of these cars? I had looked them up before. But minutes before we got to the dealership I see the white one was a bit of a lemon (how did I miss that before??). & then there was a grey one that was one year newer, had all sorts of premium features, only had 14,000 miles, and was priced *very* well. How did I miss this one before? What in the heck!?

MH told me he liked grey better anyway. This is the first one he is really open to talking about post blue car. I told him, I just didn't know. But that maybe I'd like blue better than grey. We just have to see it in person. We both agreed though that we'd buy this grey car even if they wouldn't come down in price. If it came to that. It hadn't been sitting too long, but had sat long enough that they had just dropped the price by 10%.

So we get to Napa dealership and they show us the lemon car. We are really intrigued by grey car at this point, but they told us literally someone just walked into the office to buy it. We were maybe 15 minutes too late. Bummer! At this point, I Was feeling maybe the blue one was "meant to be". Not that we were going to buy it last night, but just where I thought things seemed to be heading. The grey one was clearly not meant to be.

MH was joking and asks, "How often do these things fall through?" I said, "Who knows, maybe they won't be able to secure financing." & I was totally serious. The woman who was covering for the busy sales people told us she'd get her card and we would call back the next day. We went with that just because who knows, but I didn't really think we'd drive out an hour again the next day (in the offchance this deal actually fell through) just to have this potentially happen again. Anyway, the grey Volt was parked right next to where we had parked and so we were really giving it a good once over while she got her business card. I felt a little silly knowing this car was essentially someone else's car now. Like, you don't go up to someone's car and start peering inside and checking it all out. But I *really* liked the color in the end. Surprisingly so. It's more of a metallic dark silver? I don't even know that I have even noticed/seen this color on this car before.

Between waiting for the business card and looking over the car, we ended up dilly dallying for a while. We were just kind of resignedly getting back into our cars when this woman runs back out and says, "Wait! They don't want the car!"

Some part of me right now is just like, "Seriously? Does every little thing in my life have to be a complete roller coaster right now?" But I will admit we have a fun story to share to go along with the most elaborate car we have ever bought. HA!

& I was absolutely horrified how much we had just drooled over the car. But I think it was moot because we were already okay with the price. Also, the first thing the salesman tells us is that they had just dropped the price $2k, and the people had said they wanted the car at that price and then later after paperwork was started they wanted to drop off $500. They said no, and they were really pissy about it. Dealership was pissy about how late in the process they decided to negotiate. It might also be because we were outside drooling over the car.

{In the end, the car was $2k below kbb, or more in line with private party pricing}.

BTW, salesman was so nice. The most pleasant car buying experience of our lives. By a mile. & I don't mean because we bought up so significantly, but because he didn't tell us infinite lies and it was pretty clear to us all along (before we got there) that there would be no wiggle room on price.

& so that is how we found our car! 2017 Chevy Volt (Plug-In Hybrid)

We did score low miles and premium sound, plus some extra luxuries. We had also learned very quickly in the car shopping process that the carpool lane stickers on these cars were all expiring December of this year. Not a huge deal because neither of us drive in traffic 99% of the time. For whatever reason, at some point while looking at this car, I thought to check the stickers because it was one year newer than all the other cars we had looked at. I wasn't expecting much because most likely they were going to expire this year too. But, there were no stickers?? Unbelievable! In the end, no one ever applied for them (prior owner?) and so we get to use the carpool lane solo for the next 3+ years. (Because we can apply for the new round of carpool stickers). This car just had a lot of little perks like that. (This is one of the things they should be advertising, but you just have to figure out on your own that it's a really good deal).

The actual purchase ended up taking so long (they were having a very busy week day), that the kids were asleep by the time we got home. I just told them over the phone that the 2005 basic minivan may as well be a horse and buggy and this car is a spaceship. We have always experienced significant upgrades because since around age 25+ we have always bought one-year-old cars and replaced cars that are 15-20 years old. But this one most definitely takes the cake. & we definitely paid the premium. Car ended up being $22,000, or about $9,000 more than we have ever spent on a car. But I just feel so at peace with it because of all the times we both were so incredibly frugal with our cars. & also, it most definitely feels like the premium was worth it as to everything we are getting with this car.

Instead of dinner and wine at a fancy restaurant, we stopped at Taco Bell around 8:30pm. HA! & MH ordered a bigger dinner and wanted to figure out more of the settings on the car. I just "ate and ran" because I didn't want to drive home too tired. Was past my bedtime by this point. (No way I was driving the brand new car home, tired and in the dark, through an area I do not know well).

Car logistics...

In the interim, we can just plug into our regular garage outlet and it will fully charge in about 12 hours. I already registered the vehicle with our electric company for reduced electricity rates. Will see how the electric costs sort out. (I've researched that but just don't remember off the top of my head). Our electricity is provided cheaply by a city/non-profit utility and is all green energy.

It may cost $1,000-ish (maybe less, but just rounding up generously) to install a fast charger in our garage that will charge the car in 4 hours. There is absolutely no rush on this front.

For whatever reason, the insurance was pretty cheap (which was the opposite of what I had heard and expected). That was another deciding factor. This is technically "my" car as to this is what replaced my car that I brought into the marriage. Post kids, our cars are very 50/50 though. We had a minivan and a small compact car, and it just depends on the day who needs what. We are going to fight over this car like crazy!

Back to the electricity logistics... The electric range is 53 miles. You can choose to just run the gas engine instead. Or, it will just switch automatically to gas when you run out of charge.

The car is *so quiet* which is also a factor we heavily considered with MH's disability. Definitely willing to spend more on quieter cars.

The car is probably most practical as to MH's endless city driving (driving 3 miles each way to work and to pick up kids). We would never have to put gas in this vehicle, and so gives us the chance to test out life with an "100% electric vehicle" mindset. BUT, we bought this car also with my commute in mind. I just went from 11 to 22 miles (each way). I can go roundtrip every day on the electric, easy peasy.

I think MH mostly concedes that the gas savings is more important at this point with the pay cut I took with my new job. But I am certainly not going to hog it completely to myself. We will find a way to share. It's still going to be a 50/50 car. Gas car will make more sense for longer trips or when the four of us want to go somewhere (because it is much more roomy in the backseat).

Some final thoughts:

We really almost pulled the trigger on something maybe even more expensive in the spring. I was really really unhappy at that point in time (with work situation and everything else). At that point in time, I had no idea how work situation would sort out. At some point I recognized very logically that this was just *stupid*. I *knew* that buying an expensive car was not going to make me any happier. & in fact would just add more stress that I didn't need (draining so much of our cash reserves on a car. Or alternatively, adding a monthly bill right before I knew I would be taking a significant pay cut). Logic won. But the feelings were very real.

I am happy to say that I feel the complete polar opposite today. Because we are both so financially conservative, there is definitely an element that this feels very wild and rash. But, I also know that I am mostly making a sound and logical decision. I think most importantly, this purchase isn't being made around those feelings of unhappiness.

If you hadn't picked up on it, we paid cash. We did not purchase any extras. Just car, sales tax, license fee. My parents gave us a cash gift and we had also already saved $15,000 (over 13 years) to replace minivan. So we still have some excess cash to sort through once my employment situation levels out. For now, still hoarding the excess until I feel out the new job.

So... What a week! New car and new job. So much excitement. I think we were long overdue for some happy news. So I am kind of riding the wave of fun and excitement right now. We were going to be in the Bay Area this weekend for the Beach Boys concert. So we will drive it down and show it off to our parents this weekend.

In-laws are gifting their old car to MM(15). End of this year. They are looking at hybrids and so on, to replace that car, and I think we may push them to buy this car. They are being so *cheap*. I honestly wish they'd keep the cash gifts the usually give us and put that extra $5k or $10k to a car like this. Our goal is to get them to make the splurge at 70 that we did at 40. Life is short. & I think that can be a very dumb justification in most cases. But when you are 70 and are beyond financially comfortable... I know they would absolutely love this car! One of their siblings inherited some money recently and bought a Tesla. Maybe we will sway them. We can sell this as the poor man's Tesla?

Edited to add: Our electricity is estimated to cost about $500 per year to power our new vehicle (based on miles driven, presuming it's all electric driving). This is a very personal estimate based on our actual electric usage and rates (including the doubling of my old commute). Since we drove so much the past two days without a full charge, we've used about a gallon of gas. Roughly, one gallon to drive about 50 miles. I am a little blown away since I think official numbers are more like 40mpg, or same as our other car. Will test out on a longer drive (250 miles) this weekend.

New Car! Part I

September 14th, 2018 at 05:41 am

We ended up pulling the trigger yesterday.

To be clear, we are replacing a 2005 minivan. Though it's the newest car we have ever ditched, we just aren't "big car" people and have been scheming to ditch the van most the years I have blogged here. Early on it had been more of a plan to make a lateral car change (which we have certainly done in the past, no big deal). I'd say last time we almost pulled the trigger I was surprised how "in demand" older used cars were. In the farther past, I've generally been the only contender with private parties. In this case, I laughed (to myself) when some guy tried to say he had lots of interested buyers, but it ended up being the truth! So the cars were just being sold much faster than we wanted to act, and we probably had other reservations too. I think around the 10 year mark of owning the van (2016) we decided we were done and ready to just move on to our next "new-to-us" big car upgrade. We had agreed around that point to not put any big repairs into the van. I share just to be clear this is not a whim purchase.

This is one reason I really like paying cash for cars. (It's never the reasons everyone actually assumes). There's been significant upside and savings to just waiting. We've never paid more than $13,000 for a vehicle before, and those were the "big purchases." (The one we bought a few years ago and the minivan). Everything before that was $500 - $5,000. Way too easy to spend too much money when you start justifying the loans. & I say this age 16-40. At 40+, it was maybe a little too easy to spend the money with cash, but I still had to be comfortable writing the check. If I could only justify it by financing the last few thousand dollars? I knew we'd be stretching way too far.

Mostly where we were at before van had problems this week was that we had settled on buying an electric car and probably a Chevy Volt. The Volt is an electric plug-in but is also a gas powered car. So it's the best of both worlds. I think this is going to be a really good in-between car as to transitioning to full electric. The technology is on such a fast curve right now that we were more envisioning paying $5k-$15k for a used one (and were pretty close to pulling the trigger this past year when we test drove some incredible deals). But in the end, every time it was like, "The van's fine. Let's just wait another year so we can double the electric range and get a car that practically drives itself anyway."

As I share more about the electric car ownership later, I will also have to share a Money Mustache post where I believe he bought a brand new Nissan Leaf (electric only) for $15,000-ish out of pocket. I just want to be clear that this is more along the lines what we were thinking. There are a lot of incentives in our state too, and a healthy supply of very low priced used electric vehicles. It was never our plan to pay MSRP for a brand new hybrid or electric car. Most people will at least get a tax credit to offset the extra cost.

We've personally never considered the "new" route too seriously because we don't have enough income to be able to utilize the credit. For example, you have to have at least $7,500 in income taxes to offset the $7,500 Federal tax credit. As of today, you can get $13,000 off of a new Nissan Leaf in our state with rebates and tax credits (I just saw our electric company is also offering a $3,000 rebate, which was news to me). & Money Mustache had also gotten substantial discounts from the dealer. I think $5,000 off for taking a car loan. I absolutely would have financed a vehicle to save $5,000.

For whatever reason we had zeroed in on the Volt. It's the best of both worlds. It's been my "dream car" for the past several years as to it's appearances alone, and is absolutely the polar opposite of how I would ever buy a car. It just turns out to be an exceptional car also. I would say this was the first time we bought a car as to what we really wanted. Versus always being happy in the past with whatever random deal we come across.

{In the end, used 2018 Toyota Corollas are flooding our market right now and are priced around $13,500. Unbelievable! This is precisely how we have always car shopped in the past: Open to whatever might cross our path. In this case, we looked at a couple but just felt very "meh" about it}.

We looked at a blue 2016 Volt Wednesday, that I think we could probably talk down to $19k (because it's blue). Certified pre-owned and totally immaculate. MH was really leaning towards this car. I was being a little wishy washy. After sleeping on it, I told him that if we were really going to pull the trigger on more of a "Dream car" I Wanted the pearly white.

So yesterday we scheduled to take a look at a few deals out of town. In the end, I was not feeling well and had no desire whatsoever to clean out the van while MH was at work (for trade-in). When MH got home he was really pushing (I was surprised) but I just wasn't feeling well and didn't care at that point. He finally suggested I take a nap. I didn't realize I'd have time for that, or otherwise maybe I would have napped earlier. It did help to lay down for maybe 1/2 hour. I think we had an hour before he had to get kids from school. MH was still really pushing because didn't want to go this weekend. (It would be crowded and we have had so much stuff going on every day this week). I finally caved (lord knows I was excited to look at pearly whites). I figured I was probably in a good mindset for car shopping anyway. I wasn't going to be overly excited about it.

Oh, and I had also talked MH into forgetting about the van. I am guessing we will most likely scrap it. I doubt we'd get more than $200 more in trade-in, and I didn't think it was likely we'd buy car yesterday. Driving the gas guzzlers 100+ miles to look at cars? When it's not in the best condition? Meh.

To be continued...