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Archive for August, 2020

Bought an Electric Vehicle (EV)

August 30th, 2020 at 08:59 pm

I started a "Don't be surprised if we buy an EV" post a few days ago but was too slow on the draw.

It is done.

Our last car (dipping our toes in electric and saving a bajillion dollars in fuel) was our toe dip into the electric world. A hybrid of sorts (I still don't know what to call it because it's technically not a hybrid either. It's an electric car with a gas generator, the best of all worlds). This time around we spent a lot less money and it's more of a, "Holy cow this is too good to be true" purchase. Prices will probably continue to fall, but one bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

The car was within our "infinitely saving $100/month/each to replace our cars" price range. We haven't saved up that much (meaning that it's premature) because we've only had our gas car for 5 years. But we are also adding 50k miles back to the odometer and will add more time to the back end (reset the clock for another 12+ years). The only added expense I can come up with the early trade is the sales tax, or about $1,500. I presume we will break even and save $1,500 on fuel over the next couple of years. We also won't need oil changes, etc. For these reasons and also because sitting on a large pile of cash, it's a relatively boring/prudent purchase. It is the first time we have ever prematurely upgraded our cars (we usually keep our cars until they are 15-20 years old). I did do a premature downgrade once. This is the first premature upgrade we have ever done.

In this case... We decided after about a week of owning our electric hybrid that we wanted to go all-electric. Once you go electric, it's hard to drive a gas car. Even though we invested in some soundproofing in MH's gas car and I would consider it a very quiet car, it sounded like a wind tunnel the last time we took it on a road trip. It was driving me crazy! You get used to silent. Some of our decision to pull the trigger is that it is somewhat of a medical/disability purchase with MH's hearing loss. With all this cash, why didn't we just do it sooner? If we didn't have teen drivers, it would have been done a year ago probably. Our only hesitation has been trying to figure out the car situation with 4 drivers. We should have a lot of clarity in the next 6 months or so as college decisions start to shake out. Next summer we will have a fourth licensed driver in our household.

So... We have been trying to hold off as long as possible. But... pandemic pricing is hard to ignore. I haven't been shopping gas cars, so no idea where those are at. But I expect that electric cars are being affected by lower gas prices. They dropped well into our price range and we have been thinking about it, but then several popped up this weekend with an additional 20% price drop.

We hadn’t even test driven this car yet, but it’s pretty much the all-electric version of our hybrid and is similar in most regards (it has everything we really like about our “hybrid”). We were pretty certain it was the car we wanted. When a bajillion cars popped up on deep discount this weekend, we decided to at least go for a test drive. I didn’t really want to continue the conversation for a car we might not even like once we see it in person. It was time to test drive.

I should back up though. We haven’t decided yet what to do with our gas car and have left that as something to figure out later. As talks were getting more frequent about electric car purchase, I decided to consult with our insurance agent last week. I was relieved somewhat that the cost to fully insure a car for MM(17) had gone down about 40% since I last asked. It dropped into the realm of reason. (Still expensive, but not completely absurd). There is nothing magical about turning 18 (next summer) but his insurance rates should continue to drop as that car gets older and he ideally continues to add to his good driving record. Which means it would be reasonable at all to sell him our gas car.

Back to the test drive… The prices are not crazy low in our city so we had to drive about 30 miles out to test drive one of the deals. The salesmen were all very hands-off, I don’t know how much of that is pandemic related. They honestly seemed bored by our presence. We test drove two at that location, one was *the* car. MH was more than happy with the car, and the price was good. The only thing was that there was a used car lot with about 50 Bolts (better pricing), 40 miles up the road. We tried to haggle but they just weren’t budging. Honestly, this is usually how we buy cars. It’s an incredible deal, we go pay cash, life goes on. We tend to discuss things for weeks and months but the final decision on anything big is going to be a split second decision for the most part. My gut serves me very well. MH and I were probably leaning towards just buying the car and enjoying the rest of our day. I finally said, “Let’s walk and see what happens.” *shrugs* There is really no reason to be in this big of a rush. I really expected them to change their tune (and have experienced this many times before, when it comes to various purchases). We told them there was a better deal down the road but that we preferred to not make the drive. If they could even meet us in the middle? They just didn’t give a flip. We walked. I was honestly surprised how little they cared, it was a car that had been sitting for a while.

As we got on the road and I perused cars (on my phone) that cost $1,500 less, we decided a little extra driving was well worth it. But… I knew the whole “50 Bolts” thing was going to be overwhelming. Hindsight 20/20, should have taken some notes and been more organized. In the end, I have a real mental block about black cars though that is MH’s preference. The black ones are beautiful and it’s absolutely my favorite color. But, the one and only time I drove a dark car (it wasn’t even black) it was infinitely getting hit by other cars. That car once got hit while I was paying in a parking garage, and that was before the distraction of cell phones. ??? Don’t ask me. That was after I had replaced the bumper like 5 times. It was absurd. So… All I ever tell MH is that I don’t want a black car. But, I also told him I wasn’t going to buy any of these cars if they weren’t immaculate. It was clear a lot of these cars were a little more rough (the one we otherwise liked the best was really scratched up and clearly not meticulously kept). So… I caved. I do like it and I hope this round of dark car ownership goes a little better. The car was immaculate. Posted price was same as the car we walked from, but had 10k less miles. We haggled in the “never hurts to ask” vein and they shrugged and took a few hundred dollars off the top. I think they were just as overwhelmed as we were. I admit those prices will likely drop even further given some time, due to sheer volume, but there was something to be said for sniffing out the nicest one in our price/mile range. If all that was left was the beat up ones, we wouldn’t have been happy to have made the extra drive.

We bought our prior 4 cars at dealerships. We generally end up there for the ‘1 at this price’ “too good to otherwise be true” type deals. This was more of a specialized used car lot and it took 15 minutes to sign the paperwork, paying cash. For reals. I would 1,000 percent go back to that car lot again. Probably too specialized (was a luxury car lot). But… I can’t believe all that and they even threw us a bone on the price.

We bought the higher-end/fully loaded version of the car. The pricing was all the same regardless. So might as well get all the bells and whistles at no additional cost. There is all sorts of crazy stuff: parking assist, lane departure, pedestrian braking, adaptive cruise control, etc., etc. No one tried to sell us on that stuff (very hands off) and is not why we bought the car, so have to figure out exactly what we have and how it works. I don’t know if I want to get used to all that, but will google a bit and try to find some quick videos about how all of this stuff works.

We bought used, paid cash. It's a 2017, same as the hybrid.

We have a learning curve on the all-electric driving. We didn’t do much research. We know the electric range is more than enough for our needs (will 99% of the time charge at home). But if we can get free charging or figure it out for road trips, we will. We just don’t have that all figured out yet. It will be a lot easier for us since we already dipped one foot into electric driving. We had so many surprises (all good) after we bought our electric hybrid. So there’s some baseline understanding and experience there. But we’ve never really had to think about refueling outside with only electric options. That’s the learning curve we have. & if it sucks and it’s not practical, then it just will be our around town or “within 100 miles” car, which is more than fine. Is more than we need. This car is primarily going to be driven on MH’s infinite 6-mile roundtrips to/from school and work. There’s just nothing practical whatsoever about making all those trips with a gas car, if you have a reasonable electric option.

That is what will be interesting and is some of the learning curve that we have. The hybrid electric car we bought was due to the doubling of commute (that also came with a significant pay cut). All of my electric driving is open freeway. I don’t even know if I have been in a traffic jam in that car because I have carpool stickers and have always been able to go around any backups. This means that I just get the expected miles range. If you do more city driving and stop and go, the car generates its own electricity and you can drive farther on the electric. MH mostly drives city, so it will be interesting to see how long we can go between charges. Of course, MH isn’t really driving anywhere right now, so these are things we might not be figuring out for a while still.

We will be able to function very well with our one “fast” charger. We call it a fast charger because it’s a lot faster than just plugging into the wall. But now that we have a longer-range vehicle with actual fast charging, I need to change my terminology. We have a Level 2 charger in our garage, that is in the middle (speed of charging). I will continue to charge every night for my commute. The all-electric vehicle can be charged on the weekends or as needed. (Probably 1-2 charges per month, on average, during non-pandemic times).

I will do a post later going into some more details about the car. Answering some of the basic EV questions. Ideally, I would like to share information and hopefully correct a lot of misinformation in the process. But… I know I haven’t done a good job since we bought the hybrid, because life has been so crazed. It’s also probably going to be “meh”, because the car is probably going to mostly sit in the garage for the rest of 2020. If I never blog about it again, it may just be that no one’s driving anywhere anyway. I expect it will all be a little more interesting and informative when life resumes some normalcy.


August 23rd, 2020 at 03:37 pm

It's like the apocalypse here. Heat wave was a nightmare. Because... We had freak weather and lightning. I don't recall *ever* having thunder storms during hot weather. But, that's what happened and is why the state is burning down.

We had a small storm in our city but somehow were spared. It's the Bay Area where it seems to mostly be uncontained fires (east, north, west), due to 10,000+ lightning strikes. The fire closest to our family is up to 340k acres. The evacuation border is at the end of my in-laws' street. I am convinced they will have to evacuate (or should), but I guess it just depends on which way the wind blows.

The smoke is unbearable in our city. It's been raining ash.

So... Pretty much just a typical week. 🙄

Stay safe everyone. Hurricanes and fires, and whatever else...

Catching Up

August 16th, 2020 at 02:12 pm

The last month or so has been complete insanity. But... What else is new? *shrugs* Honestly, it's been more calm overall and I have any time and space whatsoever to deal. I can recognize the improvement, though it's still insane and I am exhausted.

We are in the middle of some house murphy. So far the count is a broken toilet flapper ($4 to replace), a sink hose that is covered under warranty (if we could ever get through), and two bug infestations we handled. At least it's inexpensive Murphy?

The medical/disaster/accident front has been absolutely absurd, and so has my work jinx. I give up on getting into any of that because it would take all day. So I will just share the two most terrible things.

95yo GMIL had a fall (her first) and ended up in a rehab facility. That has been roller coaster. They were literally releasing her from the emergency room and everything was "as good as could be" given that she broke a couple of bones. But... At the last minute they decided to hospitalize her. She lives completely independently/alone. It's scary as heck to have her in a medical facility during a pandemic. & clearly this marks a turning point in her health and independence, so it's just a lot.

Update: She was starting to walk, but now she can't walk, so that continues to be very up/down.

What has been keeping my up at night is DL(15)'s mental and emotional health. I think I have been somewhat holding my breath the last few weeks, not sure how he will deal with school this year. He's had a mental block re: distance learning (especially emergency distance learning).

I am so relieved to report that he has gotten over it and is handling things as well as can be. He's only been back at school for 3 days. I expect it to be a very long road, with many ups and downs. But, the first day does set the tone and I feel much relief. He does well with a schedule, and so far I will say that school has been nothing but good for him. They are doing distance learning until numbers are better in our state. His school is very small and well set up, and I am sure it will be safe (and best for him) when he can go back.

Those are the most terrible things, I guess. More of the same with some other younger relatives (with random terrible health issues) but those are all roller coasters and "good as can be" for the moment. One minute they have months to live, the next minute it's "nothing".

As to the more mundane...

MM(17)'s school (and entire district) has been delayed a few weeks while they figure things out. His work permit expired and he achieved his goal of making $$$$$ during summer months. He has chosen to just take some time off and to enjoy the unexpected break. College apps start soon!

As I circle back to getting the house in order, we are tending to things around the house. Last week we hired someone to repair our shower. Grout was falling out and we've never been great about keeping it clean. We live in such a throwaway society that it never had occurred to me it would be so inexpensive just to get it repaired. Probably should have done it 10 years ago, but it is done now. The shower is all sealed up and looks brand new again.

{As a side note, I was going to make note of the homemade shower cleaner mentioned in the blogs recently. But... got an email from shower repairer that specifically mentioned not to use low PH cleaners on grout (e.g. vinegar). This probably explains why the kids' barely used showers still looks good as new. Our shower has been more used and exposed to more harsh cleaners over the years}.

I did a minor wall repair yesterday (filled some screw holes) that took about 2 minutes. Should have done it 3 years ago, but it is done.

With the heat wave we are having, I have nothing else on my list for the weekend. Mostly just reading.

We made it down to our last 2 movies! I am still behind a few podcasts, so don't expect to be all caught up (with Top 100 movies + each podcast per movie) until probably next weekend. But... I should have so. much. time. when it is done!

Rolling Blackouts

August 15th, 2020 at 01:18 pm

I don't want to jinx it, but...

We are headed into a big heat wave this next week. I saw last night that our state was having rolling blackouts to handle the electricity needs that are exceeding capacity. (Which is kind of insane, because the heat wave barely just started).

This is not affecting us. We have a non-profit utility company that is inexpensive and great. I didn't mention anything when long-term blackouts were widespread in our state (last summer/fall?) because did not affect us.

I share to say that is why I have not mentioned whatsoever. But... I also saw this meme last summer/fall and it just cracks me up. I had to share. I think it sums it up pretty well.

We are thinking to our next move, and I probably need to start writing a list. Not dealing with PG&E should top the list.

The last 30 days or so have been absolutely absurd. But I survived, and I am working on a more general update.

Wins & Fails

August 9th, 2020 at 02:54 pm

The Universe laughed so hard at me last last week. So so hard. 😞

{Yes, it's taken me a week to even finish this post. So I was talking about last week, but now that is last last week}.

I initially titled this blog post "fail". Because not really sure where to begin but it just felt like a big fail.

But... Our assets did top $1 Mil. I had kind of given up for this year. In fact, was surprised how much the stock market went up after we hit this goal several days ago. So I get to even enjoy this for more than just one day. 😁

But... It took us 10 years to get back to a $500k+ net worth after hitting it the first time. So while it's nice, I don't really have any huge expectations at this point. $1 Mil is a cool milestone, but I don't expect to stay there given the current economic outlook.

& so it continues... My work life is generally impossible, and everyone around me is dealing with a lot. But... Everything money is going well. That pretty much sums up the last few years, and so it continues.